When Does Neuroplasticity Decrease?
It’s a common misconception that neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to change and adapt, decreases as we age. In fact, research has shown that neuroplasticity actually increases throughout adulthood (1). So why do we tend to feel like our brain power is declining as we get older?
One possible reason is that although neuroplasticity increases with age, the rate of increase slows down. So while the brain is still changing and adapting, it’s doing so at a slower pace than in earlier adulthood (2).
Another reason may be that we experience more age-related changes in other parts of the body, which can have an indirect impact on the brain. For example, as we age, we lose muscle mass and bone density, which can lead to frailty and a greater risk of falls (3). Falls can cause traumatic brain injuries, which can in turn lead to neurological changes and a decline in cognitive function (4).
There are also changes in the structure and function of the brain itself that occur with age. For example, the brain shrinks in size and the nerve cells may become less efficient (5). These changes can result in a decline in cognitive abilities such as memory and executive function (6).
So although neuroplasticity does not decrease with age, there are a number of factors that can lead to a decline in cognitive function. Keeping your mind active and your body healthy can help to offset some of these changes and preserve your cognitive abilities as you age.