Aging causes several changes to cognitive functioning and plasticity including changes in tasks requiring use of the prefrontal lobe and the prefrontal cortex, morphology of neurons, and the release of calcium ions in action potentials. There are several ways to improve outcomes to loss of plasticity in aging. Cardiovascular and resistance training exercises affect different areas of the brain and functioning. Voluntary exercise is proven to create the greatest benefit in rodents. Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) and Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep improve plasticity in the brain including engaging the parasympathetic nervous system, restoring the ability to create action potentials, synaptic pruning, and increased ability to perform procedural activities. Learning creates both microstructural and cognitive changes in the brain. Learning in old age helps individuals to improve their cognitive functioning. Scientists continue to develop interventions to improve plasticity. Stem cell implantation encourages hope to cure neurodegeneration in the future. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), a noninvasive treatment, shows promise of functional and biological improvement, and further testing may determine use of TMS on humans.
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SACAD: John Heinrichs Scholarly and Creative Activity Days: Vol. 2023, Article 67.
Available at: https://scholars.fhsu.edu/sacad/vol2023/iss2023/67