Normal Cognitive Aging

As for this assignment, we will start by discussing what Normal Cognitive Aging refers to. Cognitive aging refers to the process whereby the brain begins to slow down in its speed. The ability that one had in the scheduling and undertaking of the multiple activities now becomes very sensitive to the aging process. Mental functions can also be seen to decline, and they include skills that are numerical, general knowledge and Vocabulary issues. However, most of the mental capabilities can be seen to occur especially in the Middle age. At this stage, the reasoning of the individual decreases, executive functions are also executed slowly and lastly the ability to multitask also dwindles.

There are very many changes that can be seen to occur under the Neurocognitive aging process and they include crystallized and fluid intelligence, processing speed attention, memory, language, visuospatial abilities and lastly, we have executive functioning. We can start by discussing the crystallized and fluid intelligence change (Blazer & Wallace, 2016). Fluid and crystallized intelligence can be described as the capacity and ability to be able to reason as well as solve problems that are related to the Novel. Through this kind of intelligence, one can analyse and organize the novel problems. One is also able to identify the relationships and patterns that can be seen to underpin such problems as well as extrapolation through logic means (Harada & Love & Triebel, 2013). The concepts of fluid and crystallized are also used in the description of the patterns of change over the entire lifespan of an individual.

This form of intelligence also describes the ability skills and knowledge that can be seen to be over-learned, familiar and well-practiced. The crystallized abilities can be seen to be stable, but they improve gradually on a constant ratio of 0.02 to 0.03 per year (Harada & Love & Triebel, 2013). Because crystallized intelligence is commonly caused by information being accumulated that reflects on the life experiences that one has encountered, the older people or the adults are frequently seen to be better especially in performing tasks that require this kind or type of intelligence. Younger adults do not have such experience accumulated when compared to an adult. When we look at fluid cognition, it refers to an individual’s ability to be able to process, learn and work on the new information, manipulate and attend to their environment and lastly to be able to solve problems (Blazer & Wallace, 2016). The fluid Cognitive domains include processing speed, Executive functioning, and psychomotor ability and lastly we have memory. Most of the abilities that are related to the liquid cognitive state can be seen to peak at around 30 years, and after that, they start declining at a rate of 0.02 each year.

Processing speed is another factor in the aging process. This refers to the relative speed at which most of the Cognitive activities can be seen to be performed with. It also involves the rate of motor responses. The ability of the fluid cognition can be seen to decline especially after the third decade of one’s life. It continues to fall throughout the entire lifespan of an individual. Most of the cases in which changes are reported are usually in healthy adults, and they are seen (Blazer & Wallace, 2016). As a result slowing down of the processing speed. This slowing process can be seen to have negative impacts especially when it comes to neuropsychological tests which are used for measuring cognitive domains that include fluency when it comes to oral use (Blazer & Wallace, 2016). It is safe to say that a decline that is related to speed in processing can lead to implications that are related to cognitive domains.

When we look at attention, it can be seen to refer to the ability to be able to give concentration as well as focus on a given stimuli. The attention span which is also known as the next memory is usually measure using digits which commonly show a very slight decline when one approaches their late life (Harada & Love & Triebel, 2013). Noticeable effects due to age are often seen especially on very complex tasks that require attention, and they include divided and selected attention. The selective attention can be defined as the process where one can be able to give focus especially on some information that is peculiar to that environment while ignoring all the other information within the same environment that can be said to be irrelevant (Blazer & Wallace, 2016). The central importance of such kind of attention is that it enables one to engage in talking or a conversation even if it is in a noisy environment. When we look at the divided attention, it refers to the process of being able to give focus on very may tasks that occur at the same time.

An individual can be seen to pay attention to different pieces of information that occur at the same given time. When we compare the older adults with, the younger adults, the younger adults can be seen to perform much better when it comes to the involvement of the tasks that require a memory that is working (Harada & Love & Triebel, 2013). A working memory refers to a memory that can hold information momentarily in their brains while at the same time they are simultaneously working and manipulating that piece of information (Blazer & Wallace, 2016). A good example to explain this concept is that most of the adults can be seen to have a problem in the ordering of strings of letters or numbers in a given sequence. They may also have problems, especially in the calculation on tips maybe on a bill in the restaurant.

The next change in the neurocognitive change is about the Memory. Most of the adults normally have complaints when it comes to the change in remembrance. Younger adults can be seen not to perform better than the older adults when they are subjected to memory and learning tests. Changes that are related to the memory can be seen to affect the processing speed (Blazer & Wallace, 2016). This change in the mind typically ends up slowing these processing speeds. There are two types of memory, and they include the nondeclarative memory and the declarative memory. Declarative memory is described as a memory which is conscious especially when it comes to events and facts recollection. The declarative memory is further divided into the episodic and semantic memory. The Semantic memory refers to the process of using language, funding of information and practically using language for example through knowing what certain words might mean (Harada & Love & Triebel, 2013). On the other hand, the episodic memory which is also referred to as autobiographical memory relates to a type of memory that is related to personally events that occur within a particular time and date in one’s life. This kind of memory can be measured through the use of figures, word lists and lastly we have the memory on given on individual stories. Healthy aging in time leads to a decline in the semantic and episodic memory, However it is important to note that these types of memories frequently drop at very different rates.

Nondeclarative memory is also referred to as implicit memory. This kind of memory is commonly seen to be outside of the awareness of a person. A good example to explain this sort of memory is the ability of one to be able to remember how a particular song goes. The nondeclarative memory is further divided into the procedural memory (Blazer & Wallace, 2016). This type of memory involves the remembrance of cognitive and motor skills. This memory can also be broken down into various stages that are different. When we look at the structural and functional brain changes about aging, there are many changes that can be said to occur. According to this topic question we are going to discuss the changes that happen in the brain about age. The first change that can be seen to occur is that the Gray matter can be seen to decrease in size as well as volume. This gray matter can be seen to start declining especially after the age of 20 years. In the prefrontal cortex, the atrophy amount is usually very prominent (Blazer & Wallace, 2016). Changes because of age in the temporal lobes can be said to be very moderate, and they can be seen to involve the decreases that relate with the hippocampus. The entorhinal cortex usually decreases in volume, especially in the Alzheimer’s dementia. This cortex is said to be responsible for the being the main relay center that is between the association areas and the hippocampus. Many causes can be related to the decrease in volume of the gray matter, and they include neurons dying. The death of neurons can be seen to be detrimental particularly due to the infrequent cell division as well as the opportunity given for the mutations to occur leading to accumulations.

Beta-amyloid can also be seen to have an impact on the decrease in the size of the gray matter. This protein beta amyloid usually accumulates primarily in the brains of patients who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia (Harada & Love & Triebel, 2013).  When we look at mentalizing, we can start by defining what it means. Mentalizing can be seen as the ability or process on one being able to infer mental states of other individuals. Different studies have shown that individuals that are much older have a mentalizing capacity that is lower when compared to younger individuals (Blazer & Wallace, 2016). This decline in this capability can be associated with the decrease in BOLD responses. This BOLD response is typically used in the marking of the activities in the body that relate with metabolism in the prefrontal and dorsomedial cortex. Consequently, this raises fact this area of the brain can be seen to be necessary for mentalizing and as a result, it may reduce in size as individual advances with their age.

When we look at the synaptic density and the Neuronal size, the best explanation for the decline of the gray matter is not because of the significant death of the neurons but is because of the decrease in the connection that exists between them as well as the reduction in their size. A drop in the synaptic density is best documented in older adults (Blazer & Wallace, 2016). It is best described as Terry and Katz man’s model. At the age of 30 years, a person will have a synaptic density that can be seen to be equal to that of a person with AD. The neurons can be seen to go through various conditions that can be morphological in nature and they might include the decrease primarily the complexity of the dendrite arborization (Harada & Love & Triebel, 2013). The dendrite is also likely to decrease in length, and lastly, we have neuritic spines being decreased. This changes that have been named above are liable to bring about a reduction especially to the synaptic density.

The white matter can also be seen to decrease in size. This thing frequently drops significantly much more than the White Matter. White matter loss in the past has been studied through techniques that involve imaging, however, this method can be said to be limited to numbers that are low in the healthy controls (Blazer & Wallace, 2016). According to one study based on the use of morphometric methods, there was a 16-20% loss in the volume of the White matter especially in individuals who were above 70 years old when compared to people that are younger. Shrinkage in the white matter has been noted in the areas of the corpus callosum, gyrus rectus, and the precentral gyrus. These areas showed reduction with less than 6% (Harada & Love & Triebel, 2013). Other studies indicate that a decline in the white matter can also be considered using DTI which stands for diffusion tensor imaging, through this study one can be able to monitor the VIVO as it decreases in the white matter.

Many practical implications can be seen to be related to Age cognitive decline. We can start by defining that age-related cognitive change does not affect an individual’s ability to perform their roles or tasks daily. However, in the recent past, recent studies have shown that normal cognitive aging may lead to the decline of the functional abilities that are complex. These abilities may include driving (Blazer & Wallace, 2016). This can be proved in the sense that older individuals are typically said to be more prone to accidents when compared to younger individuals. Most of the cases result due to dementia or what is known as MCI, medical illnesses, medications, vision problems and lastly we have disorders that relate to the muscles and skeletons. Even if we have individuals who are old and they still avoid all these conditions that have been named above, they are still seen as drivers who are unsafe due to normal cognitive aging; this aging causes decrements which are small especially in the multiplication of the cognitive domains that are typically needed for driving (Harada & Love & Triebel, 2013). The fields that are required for driving include good vision. Visual attention is very crucial as well as the perception on visuals. Despite the fact many adults are said to be unsafe to drive, most of the Clinicians are unable to conduct tests to determine who is safe or unsafe to drive. The best way according to experts to test on this is from the performance that is based on an actual road test.

There are many ways through which can use so as to avoid cognitive decline that is successful in the recent past. However, before we analyze this question, it is important for one to know that Cognitive age changes among individuals may vary from one to the other. They may arise due to different genetic features, psychological factors, and medical illness as well. Some of the successful ways through which an individual may use so as to avoid the Cognitive decline process include the Lifestyle Cognition hypothesis (Blazer & Wallace, 2016). Through this assumption, one maintains a very healthy and active lifestyle as well as engaging in some of the activities that may be seen to help one in the prevention of age-related issues that lead to its decline. A good way to prove this point is the fact that older individuals that have a cognitive function that is higher are frequently seen to be able to conduct activities that have a frequency that is very high as compared to people that have a little cognitive function. Other activities that can be seen to be successful in the slowing down of the Cognitive decline may include involving oneself in groups of discussion, accessing the computer, games such as puzzles and board, making use of musical instruments. One can also go to school for higher studies or enroll for careers that may be seen to require considerable complexity (Harada & Love & Triebel, 2013). They may also do exercises that are physical, and they include dancing, gardening, and activities that can be seen to improve the cardiovascular health. Cognitive decline can also be monitored through engaging oneself in social activities such as cultural events traveling, through socializing with family and the surrounding friends and people.

 

There are many theories that can be used to explain on how to handle Cognitive age decline. One such method that can be utilized is the Cognitive reserve theory.  According to this theory, some of the individuals can be said to have more ability in the sense that they can withstand changes that are pathologic to the brain (Blazer & Wallace, 2016). These changes may include the amyloid protein accumulating in the reserve of the brain. According to this theory, an individual should be able participate in different exercises; enroll in levels of education that are higher. They should also associate themselves with the socioeconomic status that can be seen to be much greater (Harada & Love & Triebel, 2013). Over the years researchers have come up with a process that is known as cognitive retraining whereby the given subject are trained so that they can be able to perform better in their in their cognitive testing. This training can be done through lessons or video tapes.

In conclusion and summary, I can say that the usual aging process that can be associated the declines, especially in the cognitive abilities. Most of the declines and their causes are not well understood. The most common factors that can be seen or related to a decrease in the Cognitive ability are due to the reduction in the size of the gray and white matter. Cognitive Aging frequently differs from one individual to the other individual. They may be caused by a difference in the genetic factors or medical problems. It is important to note that one cannot prevent the Cognitive decline in the end but one can opt to slow it down through physical exercises, to enroll at higher education levels and also through playing games such as puzzles and board games.

 

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