Plasticity is a general concept but it can be applied to specific areas of the brain as well. For example, the plasticity of the brain varies between the different senses and modalities. In addition, different functions of plasticity are associated with different domains within a single sense. Furthermore, different perceptions within a particular sense may be influenced by different time periods of plasticity.
Reduced plasticity with age
In psychology, the term “reduced plasticity with age” describes a trend that occurs after we reach middle age. This phenomenon can occur due to changes in the brain that happen during development and in response to trauma. Plasticity refers to changes in the brain’s structure and functional supply. Generally speaking, plasticity occurs in the different parts of brain cells, including the dendrites that extend from the perimeter of each neuron. These dendrites are responsible for receiving signals from other neurons.
According to a recent review of several studies, the brain exhibits reduced plasticity with age in several areas. This includes the prefrontal cortex, the caudate nucleus, the thalamus, the sensorimotor cortex, and the hippocampus. However, eight of these regions exhibit structural plasticity across training studies, despite the general decline in brain volume. This finding may suggest that interventions targeting these brain areas are necessary to reverse the decline in cognitive function that occurs with age.
Regardless of the causes of this phenomenon, it is clear that older people have less plasticity in the brain than younger individuals. Although the size of grey matter decreases in old age, the reduction is not uniform and may be due to individual differences. This suggests that plasticity in younger individuals is more widespread and may operate on a global level, whereas in older individuals, it is more localized. For this reason, it is essential to conduct age-comparative intervention studies in order to verify and validate these findings.
The reduction of plasticity with age is also evident in the auditory cortex. This structure is influenced by sensory inputs that are reduced during the maturation process. However, these changes can be counteracted by providing the appropriate environment and undergoing discrimination training. However, there is no evidence to suggest that reduced plasticity with age is a major cause of decline in cognition.
The research also suggests that cholinergic enhancement reduces the risk of false positives and negatives in aged rats. These results suggest that cholinergic enhancement can help to restore the lost plasticity in these aged animals. Cholinergic enhancement is an effective way to improve cognitive performance.
Non-linear decline and age-related brain plasticity are concepts that are gaining wider acceptance and are being studied in both neuroscience and psychology. The concept of non-linear decline has its roots in biological processes such as aging, but it also has implications for mental health. For example, age-related decline can be attributed to the effects of stress and depression. Stress and depression are also linked with decreased neurogenesis. Furthermore, depression and age are both predicted to be associated with a decline in hippocampal volume. However, cognitive therapy and meditation could help to enhance positive plasticity and improve wellbeing.
The NIMH director has encouraged the development of clinical neuroscience to understand and address these issues. Neuroplasticity refers to the ability of brain cells to change over time. This can affect the function of a person at any age. Behavioral techniques developed by psychologists are uniquely suited to influence this neuroplasticity.
Recent studies have shown that age-related cognitive decline can be arrested or even slowed. Moreover, positive interventions can promote the development of new brain structures. In rats, positive interventions have shown significant gains in brain architecture and performance. These studies are important for understanding age-related cognitive decline.
Non-uniform changes in neural circuitry
Neuronal circuitry in the elderly is likely to exhibit changes at multiple levels. Alterations in molecular composition and structural organization at the synapse may alter the function of the circuit and lead to altered behavior. Alzheimer’s disease, which affects older people, is associated with loss of neocortical synapses. The loss of these synapses is correlated with cognitive impairment. Hence, age-related memory impairment is most likely a function of changes in the composition of synaptic proteins and their distribution in the neuronal compartment.
Although age-related changes in neural circuitry are widespread, the functional effects of these changes are poorly understood. In the human hippocampus, glutamate receptors are particularly important. These receptors are part of a complex trisynaptic circuit which is highly ordered anatomically and implicated in memory.
Age-related changes in neuronal circuitry are associated with changes in neurotransmitter receptors (NMDA receptors), such as a decline in NR1. These findings suggest that age-related changes in NMDA receptor levels may impact memory function.
Neurochemical changes associated with aging are also associated with specific cell classes and a trisynaptic circuit through the hippocampus. While age-related SYN staining did not show a statistically significant difference, aged subjects and rats with robust spatial learning deficits showed reduced SYN immunoreactivity.
To understand the cellular and neuroanatomic aspects of age-related cognitive impairment, a quantitative study is needed. The best results can be obtained from animals that have been behaviorally screened for age-related changes. These data can be used to draw direct correlations between the neurobiological index and behavioral performance.
Researchers are piecing together the puzzle of the aging brain. It is well-known that brain mass decreases as people age. This decrease occurs in the frontal and hippocampus. However, the aging process also affects dendrites, which are thin protuberances that connect neurons. This can impair neuronal communication and lead to cognitive decline.
Non-uniform changes in neural circuits as a result of age are associated with a decrease in the onset of memory and other cognitive abilities. This process also contributes to the development of age-related Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers believe that the decline in cognitive abilities in old age is due to subtle neurochemical and morphologic changes in the brain without any frank neuronal degeneration.
Influence of social context on plasticity
The influence of social context on age and plasticity in adults is a complex phenomenon, spanning multiple domains. Specifically, the study found that age-related differences in plasticity were due to differences in the transfer of training, rather than to differences in genes. However, this finding needs to be verified by further age-comparative intervention studies, which would be more definitive.
Interestingly, this theory also has implications for understanding language acquisition. In particular, it explains the dismantling of language learning circuitry in adulthood and the depletion of metabolically greedy neural systems. The neurobiological cause for this phenomenon has been proposed to be maturationally regulated myelination, which insulates axons and reduces synaptic plasticity.
Furthermore, the age-related decline in cognitive abilities can be explained by a reduction in the nigrostriatal dopamine levels in older adults. The cognitive processes involved in online L2 processing involve the use of domain-general capacities (DGCPs) that are responsible for online L2 processing. This regulation of plasticity occurs within a critical period, during which environmental and developmental factors interact to determine neurocognitive outcomes.
Plasticity is an important feature of the aging process, which refers to the ability of brain cells to change in response to experience. A growing body of research has found that certain activities, such as regular physical exercise, influence the rate of change in brain cells. In addition, neuroplasticity in the brain is also well-documented in animal models, which shows that the brain changes throughout the life-span.
These developmental processes are arranged in a sequential pattern of developmental stages, or “sensitive periods,” which allow for hierarchical organization of higher-order cognition and cerebral function. The sequence of these sensitive periods is crucial for human behavioral and cognitive development. In addition, the varying degree of first-language entrenchment during these developmental stages affects the degree of plasticity in the brain.