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Does Your Brain Shrink As You Get Older

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What Are The Symptoms Of Brain Atrophy

Stop Your Brain Atrophy With This Simple Daily Action
  • Dementia: A non-specific disease often presenting with a wide range of symptoms. It is most commonly associated with a decline in memory and other thinking skills. Cognitive ability is often limited severely enough to reduce a persons ability to perform everyday tasks, causing them to have to rely on help from others. Dementia is characterized by worsening judgment, poor concertation, personality changes, and emotional disturbance. Alzheimers disease is the most common type of dementia and accounts for nearly 60 to 80 percent of all cases.
  • Seizures: Occur due to sudden, abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Seizures often present as uncontrolled jerking movements , but can be subtle, presenting as a momentary loss of awareness .
  • Aphasia: The inability to comprehend and formulate language. This symptom will occur due to injury of the centers of the brain responsible for language. For a person to be diagnosed with aphasia, the decline in four communication modalities must be documented. These include deficiencies in auditory comprehension, verbal expression, reading, and writing, as well as functional communication.

Which Brain Parts Are Affected By Cerebral Atrophy

While having generalized cerebral atrophy will affect the entire brain size as a whole, there are several instances where certain parts of the brain may be affected more significantly than others. In Alzheimers disease, the most common cause of dementia, the hippocampus and the cortex are two areas especially affected. These regions of the brain are responsible for forming new memories and helping us think, plan, and remember, respectively.

Another form of dementia called frontotemporal dementia is known for affecting the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain more significantly. These regions of the brain are known for being responsible for personality and behavior, which succumbs to atrophy as the condition progresses.

In cases of vascular dementia, the location of injury on the brain will determine what regions of the brain are affected. This will not only lead to neurological deficits but also cerebral atrophy.

What Happens To Your Brain As You Age

July 26, 2018Mental Health

The brain is a fascinating organ that goes through more changes in your lifetime than any other part of your body. Within four weeks of conception, your brain starts to form. From birth to age six the brain is busy developing perception, memory, emotions, and your sense of self. The brain continues wiring itself from age 7 to 22. During this stage, essential neural connections form. The prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that aids in impulse control and decision-making, is fully matured. The brain is considered at its peak from ages 22 to 27. So, what does this mean for those of us over the age of 27? What happens to the brain as we age?

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Exercise And The Brain

While many of the causes behind brain decline may not be avoidable, there is some evidence that certain lifestyle changes may help protect the brain from age-based declines. Regular exercise is one factor that may help protect the brain from shrinkage as people grow older.

There are plenty of great reasons to stay physically fit. Aside from being good for your physical health, regular exercise has been shown that it can improve cognitive functioning. And, as if you needed one more reason to hit the gym, one study has shown that being fit can help minimize the inevitable brain shrinkage that stems from the aging process.

And The Parts That Keep On Growing

Reversing age

NOSE AND EARS: Our ears grow by an average of 0.22 mm a year.

The inner part of the ear lobe remains the same size, but most ears become steadily longer.

The traditional explanation has been they are made up cartilage, which continues to grow after bones.

However, gravity is another factor. Cartilage, like skin, becomes thinner and loses its elasticity as we age, with collagen and elastin fibres breaking down.

This allows skin to stretch and sag, the tip of the nose to lengthen droop, and the ears to stretch down.

FEET: Our feet become longer and wider with age, as the tendons and ligaments which link the many tiny bones lose elasticity.

Podiatrists estimate that the over-40s can gain as much as one shoe size every ten years.

Richard Handford of the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists says the tiny joints between the toe bones deteriorate, allowing the toes to spread out, and the arch of the foot to flatten.

The protective fat pads on the heels and balls of the feet also flatten through wear and tear.

He advises wearing a good pair of running shoes as often as you can, to support the feet.

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The Secrets Of Cognitive Super Agers

Some people in their 80s, 90s, and beyond defy the common assumption that cognitive decline goes hand in hand with aging. These people, called cognitive super agers, have memory performance comparable to people 20 30 years younger. Research is ongoing to understand what sets these people apart to help others prevent age-related cognitive decline.

Talk with your doctor if youre concerned about changes in your thinking and memory. He or she can help you determine whether the changes in your thinking and memory are normal, or whether it could be something else.

There are things you can do to help maintain your physical health and that may benefit your cognitive health, too. Learn more about cognitive health and take steps to help you stay healthy as you age.

Higher Education Is Modestly Related To Bigger Brains

Whereas the rate of brain change was similar in participants with and without high education, the researchers found that those with high education had slightly larger cortical volume in a few regions, but even in these regions the rate of change was unrelated to education.

The study does not say that education is not important, stresses Anders Fjell from the University of Oslo, also one of the main authors of the paper.

Education is associated with advantages in life, but we cannot from this study say whether education caused these advantages. If people with high education have larger brains to begin with, this may delay the onset of dementia or other conditions associated with lower cognitive functioning, says Fjell.

The bottom line is that all peoples brains shrink eventually, but the rate of this shrinkage does not seem to be affected by how many years you spent in school, concludes Fjell.

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Muscles Shrink As We Age Here’s How To Fight Back

    Getting older is scary! With each birthday, we venture further into the unknown that is older age — further into the territory of can my body still do this? Our physical abilities change as we age; its natural, inevitable, and predictable. Our hormone levels shift, our bones get less dense, our dietary requirements recalibrate. But certain changes are avoidable. Muscle wasting is one of them; by making health-oriented choices, you can stay strong, even into your later years. Heres how.

    What is Sarcopenia?

    Sarcopenia is the medical term for the loss of muscle mass and strength. And while you might associate this process with old age, sarcopenia can start as early as your 40s.1 Research about its cause is constantly ongoing, but studies show that its onset is multifactorial; its related to both involuntary causes like hormonal changes and neurological decline and lifestyle factors like insufficient exercise and poor nutrition.2

    What all of these factors eventually boil down to is an imbalance in cell turnover. Cells in our body are constantly being destroyed and rebuilt — a natural process that ensures our organs stay strong and function as expected. But if the catabolic arm of that process outweighs the anabolic one, muscle loss sets in.

    How to ward off sarcopenia


    Focus on nutrition

    Maintain a healthy weight

    How to measure your muscle function

    Get An Inner Edge By Training Based On Your Biomarkers We’ve Created This Free E

    Exercise Keeps Your Brain From Shrinking as You Age


    Ferrucci, Luigi, et al. “Of Greek heroes, wiggling worms, mighty mice, and old body builders.” : 13-16.

    Walston, Jeremy D. “Sarcopenia in older adults.” Current opinion in rheumatology 24.6 : 623.

    Leech, Joe, director. How to Avoid Sarcopenia . YouTube, Healthline: Authority Nutrition, 24 Aug. 2017,;

    Schoenfeld, Brad J. “The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 24.10 : 2857-2872.

    Mason, Caitlin, et al. “Influence of diet, exercise and serum vitamin D on sarcopenia in post-menopausal women.” Medicine and science in sports and exercise 45.4 : 607.

    Abe, Takashi, Charles F. Kearns, and Yoshiaki Sato. “Muscle size and strength are increased following walk training with restricted venous blood flow from the leg muscle, Kaatsu-walk training.” Journal of applied physiology 100.5 : 1460-1466.

    Phillips, Stuart M. “Nutritional supplements in support of resistance exercise to counter age-related sarcopenia.” Advances in Nutrition 6.4 : 452-460.

    Nowson, Caryl, and Stella O’Connell. “Protein requirements and recommendations for older people: a review.” Nutrients 7.8 : 6874-6899.

    Dawson-Hughes, Bess. “Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and functional outcomes in the elderly.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 88.2 : 537S-540S.

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    How We Use The Research

    Understanding the neural basis of memory has fostered techniques and programs to help older adults adjust to normal age-related changes. First, it’s important for people in middle-age and up to relax, knowing it’s okay to write to-do lists and organize their living spaces to support their changing memory. Second, rehabilitation experts are sharing expertise with people who want to improve function even if they haven’t experienced an actual brain injury. Memory devices such as mnemonics, routines, visualization, linking new learning to something personally meaningful, and other strategies can boost memory. The greatest gains come from combining memory skill training with cognitive restructuring – in other words, accepting normal age-related changes and actively compensating for them.

    Finally, a healthy lifestyle supports brain health. Regular aerobic exercise has been shown to aid cognition, probably because it boosts blood flow and brings more oxygen to the brain. Although objective evidence about the benefits of mental exercise remains limited, certainly it does no harm. Anecdotally, many older people still report that pursuing new intellectual challenges and enjoying a supportive social network helps them stay sharp. In retirement, people stay mentally active in a variety of ways, such as volunteering, learning new subjects, and completing puzzles.

    Tips To Avoid Falls At Home

    Though you cant fall-proof your surroundings everywhere you go, there are things you can do at home to prevent yourself or loved ones from falling, including:

  • Be aware of the side effects of your medication.;Some medications have obvious side effects, such as blood thinners, which can increase bruising and bleeding. Others may come with less obvious side effects, such as dizziness or vision problems.
  • Work on balance and movement.;As we age, many of us become more sedentary. But its very important for older adults to stay active and work on balance in order to remain strong and thus safer at home.
  • Create safe surfaces.;Throw rugs are notorious for tripping people, so consider getting rid of them or use slip-proof backing. Place non-slip stickers on the bathtub floor to help prevent falls during bathing.;;
  • Wear appropriate footwear.;House shoes that slip on the feet may be comfortable, but they can easily come off your feet and trip you. Individuals who suffer from neuropathy of the feet should always wear appropriate shoes to avoid foot injuries, and most of these are well-designed to stay on the feet.
  • Light up walkways.;Make sure stairs are well-lit, and consider using lamps or nightlights to increase safety for those who get up in the night.
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    Causes Of Alzheimer’s Disease

    Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia.

    Alzheimer’s disease is thought to be caused by the abnormal build-up of 2 proteins called amyloid and tau.

    Deposits of amyloid, called plaques, build up around brain cells. Deposits of tau form “tangles” within brain cells.

    Researchers do not fully understand how amyloid and tau are involved in the loss of brain cells, but research into this is continuing.

    As brain cells become affected in Alzheimer’s, there’s also a decrease in chemical messengers involved in sending messages, or signals, between brain cells.

    Levels of 1 neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, are particularly low in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

    Medicines like donepezil increase levels of acetylcholine, and improve brain function and symptoms.

    These treatments are not a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but they do help improve symptoms.

    Read more about treatments for dementia.

    The symptoms that people develop depend on the areas of the brain that have been damaged by the disease.

    The hippocampus is often affected early on in Alzheimer’s disease. This area of the brain is responsible for laying down new memories. That’s why memory problems are one of the earliest symptoms in Alzheimer’s.

    Unusual forms of Alzheimer’s disease can start with problems with vision or with language.

    Read more about Alzheimer’s disease.

    Older Adults Can Reduce Brain Shrinkage By Gardening Dancing Walking

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    • Researchers say moderate exercise such as gardening and even dancing can help slow down brain shrinkage.
    • In their study, the researchers said people who did a moderate or high level of exercise per week had brains that had the equivalent of 4 fewer years of brain aging.
    • Experts say as people live longer, it becomes even more important for people to be physically active.

    Walking, gardening, swimming, or even dancing may slow brain shrinkage in older adults.

    Thats the conclusion from research that will be presented next month at the American Academy of Neurologys annual meeting in Toronto, Canada.

    In the study, researchers say they found that older adults who regularly participated in walking, gardening, swimming, or dancing had larger brains than their inactive peers.

    The impact of the exercise was found to be equivalent to 4 fewer years of brain aging.

    These results are exciting as they suggest that people may potentially prevent brain shrinking and the effects of aging on the brain simply by becoming more active, Dr. Yian Gu, an author of the study and an assistant professor of neurological sciences at Columbia University in New York, told Healthline.

    The researchers used magnetic resonance imaging to measure the brains of 1,557 people who undertook various levels of activity that ranged from inactive to very active.

    The average age of the study participants was 75.

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    Do Brains Shrink As We Age

    ByRachael Rettner15 September 2009

    As we get older, our brains get smaller, or at least that’s what many scientists believe. But a new study contradicts this assumption, concluding that when older brains are “healthy” there is little brain deterioration, and that only when people experience cognitive decline do their brains show significant signs of shrinking.

    The results suggest that many previous studies may have overestimated how much our brains shrink as we age, possibly because they failed to exclude people who were starting to develop brain diseases, such as dementia, that would lead to brain decay, or atrophy.

    “The main issue is that maybe healthy people do not have as much atrophy as we always thought they had,” said Saartje Burgmans, the lead author of the study and a PhD candidate at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.

    Burgmans and her colleagues wondered what would happen if they were able to screen out all of the people with so-called “preclinical” cognitive diseases. Using information collected for Holland’s Maastricht Aging Study, the researchers analyzed data from 65 “healthy” individuals who did not show signs of dementia, Parkinson’s disease or stroke and who were monitored for a period of nine years. Participants were on average 69 years old at the study’s start.

    Every three years, participants completed neuropsychological tests, which were designed to assess their cognition. They also underwent a brain MRI scan.

    Cerebral Atrophy: Why Your Brain Is Shrinking And What To Do About It

    Written byMohan GarikiparithiPublished onDecember 14, 2017

    Cerebral atrophy or brain atrophy refers to the progressive loss of brain cells, called neurons, leading to decreased brain size. This phenomenon can occur to the entire brain or be focused on a singular part. The most troubling issue with cerebral atrophy is the potential for it to affect brain function, as the location of lost brain cells will potentially lead to neurological side effects.

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    The Extraordinary Shrinking Brain

    Your brain is probably shrinking this very instant and will continue to as long as you live. Some shrinkage is considered normal. But too much shrinkage is bad because it reduces brain cells and creates inferior synaptic connections. During childhood our brains grow furiously, but at about age 25, brain growth brakes suddenly, then slowly goes in reverse. Even the most healthy individuals may lose as much as 0.4 percent of their brain mass every year. As we age, that shrinkage rate increases and is a major factor in early cognitive decline and early death. Older adults with significant brain shrinkage are at increased risk of vascular death and ischemic stroke.

    But its not just older adults who suffer from brain shrinkage. Younger people with general brain shrinkage from diseases like diabetes, or simply not exercising their brains sufficiently increase their odds of dying prematurely as much as 70 percent. Even excessive stress is enough to initiate brain shrink, according to functional medicine practitioner and sports nutritionist Brandon Mentore.

    Brain shrinkage is a broad aspect of accelerated aging that is multifactorial, says Mentore. The wear and tear over time on the hypothalamic-pituitary axis in your brain that globally responds to stress contributes to your cognitive abilities, memory recall, and retention. The more you burn through this system the more it deteriorates.

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