Declining Cognitive Function in the Aging Brain

Declining Cognitive Function in the Aging Brain

By: Tracy Everhart, MSN (masters in nursing), MSCAM (masters in complementary alternative medicine)

Everyone will experience some degree of decline in their cognitive capacity as they age. This many times includes forgetfulness, a decreased ability to maintain focus and decreased problem solving capacities. If left unchecked, these symptoms can often progress over time. Fortunately, proactive lifestyle changes, cognitive training, nutritional interventions and the use of supplements, such as Neurolon, have been shown to decrease the rate of intellectual decay and potentially reverse age-related cognitive decline.

So, when does age-related cognitive decline begin? Let’s take a look at the information available to us today related to this subject. Data from various studies indicates that the biological structures that control our ability to think and reason begin to deteriorate much earlier than we believe. Studies have consistently revealed that increased age is associated with lower levels of cognitive performance, even in the range from 20 to 40 years of age.

Many studies also show significant changes in the brain structure related to aging and include a drop in brain volume, loss of myelin integrity and cortical thinning. Structural changes of any type in the body are difficult to deal with, but within the brain, is a far different story. When you age, and it gets difficult to walk, assistive devices of all sorts are available to help you. But if changes in the brain occur, you will need something to prevent these, instead of using a “band aid” or “crutch”.

Even in healthy individuals, aging accounts for volume changes of 37% in the thalamus (sight, hearing, and the sleep-wake cycle), 36% in the nucleus accumbens (mood regulation such as pleasure, fear, reward) and 33% in the hippocampus (short-term to long-term memory). Do some of these things sound familiar as changes you see or commonly hear about, when you think of someone who is aging?

However, what if the changes that you are experiencing are a result of chemical or hormonal changes in the brain? These changes can include impaired serotonin (mood, appetite, sleep, memory and learning), acetylcholine (motivation, arousal and attention) and dopamine (memory, attention, cognition and learning) receptor binding and signaling, accumulation of neurofibrillary tangles, amyloid plaque formation and altered concentrations of various brain metabolites. Many of these you might recognize from TV or internet stories, particularly related to Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Let’s take a look at Neurolon and its proactive and restorative abilities related to brain function.
Bacopa extract has shown memory-enhancing effects in three different double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled studies.

Phosphatidylserine studies show that supplementation significantly increased the following cognitive parameters: memory recognition, memory recall, executive functions and mental flexibility.
Ginkgo biloba combined with Phosphatidylserine and Ginseng has been shown to have a long lasting positive effect on cognitive functioning.
Decreases in DHA in the brain are associated with cognitive decline during aging and with onset of sporadic Alzheimer disease.
DMAE, Vinpocetine and Huperzine use shows improved memory and cognitive abilities, and reversing free radical damage caused by aging or neurodegenerative disease.

Conserving cognitive function into late life requires early and aggressive intervention to preserve the brain, in order to keep its youthful physical and functional state.

Refferences:
Allen JS, Burss J, Brown CK, Damasio H. (2005) Normal neuroanatomical variation due to age: The major lobes and a parcellation of the temporal region. Neurobiology of Aging, 26:1245–1260.

Del Arco A et al. (2011) Prefrontal cortex, caloric restriction and stress during aging: studies on dopamine and acetylcholine release, BDNF and working memory. Behavioural Brain Research, 1;216(1):136-45.

Erixon-Lindroth N, Farde L, Robins Whalin TB, Sovago J, Halldin C, Backman L (2005). The role of the striatal dopamine transporter in cognitive aging. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 138:1–12.

Horrocks LA, Yoe YK (1999) Health Benefits of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). Pharmacological Research, 40(3):211–225.

Napryeyenko O, Sonnik G, Tartakovsky I (2009) Efficacy and tolerability of Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761 by type of dementia: analyses of a randomised controlled trial. Journal of Neurological Science, 8, 15; 283(1-2): 224-9.

Richter, Y., Herzog, Y., Lifshitz, Y., Hayun, R., & Zchut, S. (2013). The effect of soybean-derived phosphatidylserine on cognitive performance in elderly with subjective memory complaints: a pilot study. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 8, 557–563.

Salat DH, Buckner RK, Snyder AZ, Greve DN, Desikan RSR, Busa E, Morris JC, Dale AM, Fischl A. (2004) Thinning of the cerebral cortex in aging. Cerebral Cortex, 14:721–730.

Salthouse, TA. (2009) When does age-related cognitive decline begin? Neurobiology of Aging, 30(4):507-514.

Stough C. Lloyd J. Clarke J, et al. (2001) The chronic effects of an extract of Bacopa monniera (Brahmi) on cognitive function in healthy human subjects. Psychopharmacology, 156:481–484.

Volkow ND et al. (2000) Association between age-related decline in brain dopamine activity and impairment in frontal and cingulate metabolism. American Journal of Psychiatry, 1;157 (1):75-80.

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