The effects of aging on
the human brain

How does the brain work?

The human brain is the most complex organ in our body. No amount of technology or science has been able to equal it to date. Everything we do, every thought, action, emotion and behavior is controlled by this amazing three pound mass of tissue.

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The human brain is made up of different cells, the main ones being nerve cells called neurons. Thousands of neurons are grouped together to perform different tasks.

Neurons communicate with each other through chemical signals called neurotransmitters. Millions of signals speed their ways though the brain every moment enabling it to receive and process information and send out instructions to various parts of the body.

Billions of tiny blood vessels carry oxygen, glucose, nutrients, and hormones to all parts of the brain. Although the brain comprises only about 2% of the total body weight, it receives about 25% of the body's blood supply.

3 terms that come up over and over in discussions about the brain:

cognitive abilities - are the skills we need in order to process information. They involve memory, gaining knowledge, perception and problem solving.

free radicals - unstable atoms or molecules that can cause damage to normal cells. They occur normally in the body, however, factors such as pollution, radiation and cigarette smoke can increase their occurrence. If free radical production is excessive, they can cause damage to normal cells and cause loss of brain function, heart disease, cancer and other forms of disease not caused by a bacteria. Free radical damage accumulates with age.

antioxidants - substances that protect cells from being damaged by free radicals. They are formed in the body and found in vegetable oils, nuts, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruit, and berries.

How does aging affect the human brain?

The aging brain is a relatively new study. With an expected lifespan of 79 for women and 74 for men, we baby boomers make up a large and influential percentage of the population. This has triggered more research as an ever increasing older population becomes more concerned with brain fitness.

Brain cells begin dying when we are in our 20's. As our brain ages, it goes through physical and chemical changes:

  • Certain parts shrink
  • The grooves on the surface widen
  • Neurons may begin to transmit messages more slowly
  • Blood flow can weaken, hindering the flow of oxygen and nutrients
  • Nerve cells become more susceptible to damage by free radicals

These changes are a normal part of aging, they are not the cause of senility or other changes in the ability to think. With age some slight, slowing down of thought and memory are likely to occur, but do not confuse this with dementia-type illnesses like Alzheimer's which are NOT normal processes of aging.

Studies indicate that the rate of reduction in brain fitness in later life is affected by a combination of genetics, environment, disease and bad habits such as alcohol, drugs and cigarettes.

While we can't change the past or our genes, there is a lot we can do to adopt a healthy lifestyle . It can bring about positive results such as improved memory, better comprehension, and clearer thinking.

Begin a brain fitness program today. Get some great suggestions for improving Brain Power by pressing here.


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