Elderly scaffold neural circuits to compensate for cognitive decline

Older adults appear to use sparser, more distributed networks for the same tasks as their younger counterparts. This suggests that the elder brain attempts to compensate more for cognitive decline by recruiting additional brain regions in its activity. Specifically, they often seem to recruit frontal regions for otherwise “occipital” tasks, plausibly due to increased difficulty of perceiving sensations from decayed eyes. However, this effect could also be simply a result of neurons becoming less specialized with age in terms of their receptive fields. This adaptation suggests that ageing is an active process involving neurplasticity.

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