Chapter

Brain Changes in Aging: A Lifespan Perspective

Randy L. Buckner Denise and Head Cindy Lustig

in Lifespan Cognition

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780195169539
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199847204 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195169539.003.0003
Brain Changes in Aging: A Lifespan Perspective

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While the constellation of observed cognitive changes in advanced aging eludes a simple, parsimonious explanation, there is a recurring distinction between cognitive decline associated with executive and attention difficulties and that associated with declarative memory. This chapter discusses age-associated changes that affect the brain in the context of framing a general research approach to lifespan development. The discussion focuses on global measures of structural brain change, and distinct aging effects on frontal-striatal and medial temporal systems. These dissociable influences are explored as possible causes for why executive (attentional) dysfunction and declarative memory difficulties are so common in aging. The chapter also examines functional brain imaging methods that both illuminate detrimental functional consequences of brain aging and suggest functional responses that may be compensatory. The chapter concludes by considering brain aging within the broader context of lifespan development with a discussion of six possible ways early development can inform brain aging in senescence.

Keywords: aging; senescence; lifespan; brain; declarative memory; brain imaging; cognitive decline; attention

Chapter.  10105 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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