What Happens When the Brain Gets Old?
How Old Do Humans Get?
The average human lifespan has been increasing over the past one hundred years. In this chart, blue represents males, magenta represents females.
As a result of normal brain aging, humans have slower motor function, impaired sensory function, and declines in learning and memory. In the study shown on the left where people were asked to recall as many words as possible from a list of words, subjects remembered on average two fewer words every decade past age 40.
What happens to the brain when it ages?
As we age:
- Fewer new neurons are formed (neurogenesis slows down) and some existing neurons die
- Myelin becomes damaged (slowing nerve impulses)
- Synapses are damaged or destroyed
See the following sections to learn how music can help the aging brain…