According to an article from the National Institute on Aging, it is normal for certain parts of the brain to shrink as a person gets older. These are areas that impact memory, learning, and complex mental activities. The brain’s blood vessels change. Blood flow can decrease as arteries become more narrow. The occurrence of inflammation in the brain happens more often.
Mental Function Of Healthy Older People
These people may experience a decrease in their ability to learn new things. They may also have an increased struggle to recall information. Complex tasks that require memory, attention and learning may be more difficult than when younger. In many cases, doing these things just takes more time. When given adequate time to complete a complex task, research has shown that healthy individuals in their 70s and 80s are able to provide results similar to younger adults. Studies have also shown that older adults experience an improvement when it comes to vocabulary and other types of verbal skills.
Regions Of The Brain Activate
Researchers do not understand why additional regions of the brain can become active when older adults are engaged in cognitive tasks. The results of these studies have caused some scientists to conclude that a major decline in mental ability does not have to happen as a person ages. The brains of older adults have shown unique adaptive abilities. It’s possible for a person to maintain good brain health as they grow older. Researchers believe environment, overall health, lifestyle as well as genetics may play a role in maintaining good brain health as people age.
Rate of Decline
The goal for most older individuals is to decrease their rate of decline. According to an article in Psychology Today, this has given rise to industries dedicated to providing anti-aging products. These companies provide vitamins and supplements. They also sell exercise equipment, fad diets as well as mind training programs. There are also many books about improving memory and more. Many researchers who believe these things can be effective if a person starts doing them when they are at the beginning of middle age.
A study involving over 2,800 healthy adults who were 65 years old and older participated in research concerning cognitive training. There were four groups. Three groups took part in computer-based training. The fourth group did not. The participants were tested at the beginning of the training and once a year for another five years. The study showed the training reversed the amount of expected decline in cognitive performance. The results of the research demonstrated cognitive exercise can create long-term improvement in older individuals.