Convention medical wisdom has long maintained that neural cells, the brain, grown and regenerate only during the growth phase of the young. New research contradicts that however, showing that even in older adults their brains continue to grow and thrive on a cellular level well past their youth. Even accomplished neurologists have thought, some still think, new neural pathways cannot develop and form once a person is past a certain age. And in animals, this is the case. Studies focused on rats and primates show brain growth does indeed stop after the initial growth phases of the animal.
Researchers in New York, including at Columbia University, conducted autopsies on deceased patients ranging in age from seventy-nine to as young as fourteen. Focusing on the brains of each patient. In all cases, none of the patients had diagnosed with cognitive impairment, or any depressive mental or emotional disorders. The autopsies were handled over a long study period, up to two days in some cases, to give a better chance to evaluate each subject. What they found was even in the oldest patients studied postmortem, brain cells were still being produced. While there was a finding that blood flow from new blood vessels in the brain was less capable than in younger patients, even the older patients were still capable of seeing new neural activity on the cellular level.
More research is needed. The individuals studied were all healthy. Now a broader study with healthy and unhealthy individuals needs to be conducted. These findings could greatly help in the fight against dementia and Alzheimer’s.
It turns you, you can teach old dogs new tricks. Or people too. Think young and you are young. #HealthStatus
- 1Older adults actually form brain cells during their later years too.
- 2Human beings tend to retain a larger hippocampus lobe throughout their adult lives.
- 3New experiences and new learning increase brain health at all ages.