How Does Neuroplasticity Relate To Elderly People With Dementia?
As we age, our brains change in structure and function. This process, known as neuroplasticity, is thought to be one of the key mechanisms underlying age-related cognitive decline. One common manifestation of this is dementia, which affects millions of older adults worldwide.
It’s well-established that dementia is characterized by a loss of brain cells (neurons). What’s less clear is exactly how this loss leads to the cognitive symptoms of dementia. One theory is that neuron loss leads to a decrease in the brain’s ability to process information (known as neural processing capacity).
Recent research has suggested that neuroplasticity may also play a role in dementia. In a healthy brain, neuroplasticity allows neurons to adapt and change in response to new information or experiences. This adaptability decreases with age, and may be further impaired in dementia. As a result, brain regions affected by dementia may have difficulty compensating for neuron loss.
While the exact role of neuroplasticity in dementia is still being explored, this theory provides a new perspective on how the disease progresses. It also highlights the importance of maintaining a healthy brain throughout life, as this may help preserve neuroplasticity and prevent or delay the onset of dementing illness.