If you find yourself wondering where you left your glasses – again – or struggling to recall a name or a word you’ve used a million times, you’re not alone. Many people over 40 get frustrated by the occasional “senior moment.” But if you’re worried that your lapses are destined to be a permanent part of old age, take heart. It’s never too late to improve brain function.
The Aging Brain
Cognition includes the ability to learn new things, judgment, intuition, language and remembering. As people age, three basic trends begin to affect cognition, and over time they have a noticeable impact on memory, thinking and focus:
- Speed: The brain gradually slows down-but the speed of information coming in from the senses doesn’t. Over time, the brain begins to miss details, making it more difficult to react to and remember what was seen or heard.
- Accuracy: Like the grooves of an old record, the brain’s neural pathways often get fuzzier, scratchier, or even distorted. When the brain records the static along with the important sensory information, memories are fuzzier and more difficult to process.
- Recording: The brain uses chemicals called neuromodulators to determine what information is important to record and process. With each passing decade, the brain produces fewer neuromodulators. This hinders the ability to record new information-in other words, to learn and remember.
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