The Aging Brain
An Alternative Perspective on Age-Related Changes
The aging brain undergoes a complex spectrum of changes likely beginning in middle age and continuing throughout adulthood. This chapter first provides a broad overview of the current status of neuroimaging and neuropsychological research examining age-related changes to brain structure and cognition. The review focuses on those studies that have aimed to differentiate normal from pathological aging. We then discuss evidence that aging may best be viewed as a continuum of variability in physiological systems and metabolic states. We propose that individual differences in variables such as vascular and cerebrovascular integrity may be the underlying cause of many of the specific age-related changes to the central nervous system. Finally, we provide suggestions for future research, including integration of cognitive and MRI techniques, and examination of age-related cognitive changes in the context of biological and physiological variation.
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