What does “normal aging” mean? Do we all age the same way?

Healthy SeniorsHere is ques­tion 12 of 25 from Brain Fit­ness 101: Answers to Your Top 25 Ques­tions. To down­load the com­plete ver­sion, please click here.

What does “normal aging” mean? Do we all age the same way?

Key Points:

  • Age-relat­ed cog­ni­tive decline typ­i­cal­ly starts at about 40 when your brain pro­cess­ing speed slows down.
  • At the same time, old­er adults have gen­er­al­ly acquired more knowl­edge and wis­dom, but may still have dif­fi­cul­ties mem­o­riz­ing spe­cif­ic information.
  • The more edu­ca­tion peo­ple have and the more their minds are chal­lenged through­out life­time, the less they suf­fer from age-relat­ed decline.


Gen­er­al­ly, get­ting old­er both reduces your atten­tion­al capac­i­ty and the capac­i­ty for learn­ing new infor­ma­tion, and increas­es your brain pro­cess­ing require­ments. Basi­cal­ly, it takes more and more inhi­bi­tion skills to tune out dis­trac­tions and stay focused. Indi­vid­u­als will vary in how and when they feel these decreas­es, but they will even­tu­al­ly occur.

For­tu­nate­ly, a great deal of research has shown that prac­tic­ing cog­ni­tive skills encour­ages their preser­va­tion and devel­op­ment at all ages. Research into cog­ni­tive reserves found that the more edu­ca­tion peo­ple had and the more their minds were occu­pied, the less they suf­fered from age-relat­ed decline. Peo­ple who remain intel­lec­tu­al­ly active and engage in hob­bies reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s dis­ease and oth­er demen­tias by one third. All of these facts show that cog­ni­tive train­ing — exer­cis­ing your brain — helps pro­tect your brain against decline in mem­o­ry, con­cen­tra­tion, and infor­ma­tion processing.

So, plan your brain fit­ness pro­gram now. It’s nev­er too late or too early.

Fur­ther Reading:

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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