PORTLAND CHAMBER ORCHESTRA

THE INTIMATE SYMPHONY WITH INFINITE IMAGINATION

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What Happens When the Brain Gets Old?


How Old Do Humans Get?

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The oldest human was Jeanne Louise Calment. She was born on 21 February 1875 in Arles, France. She died 4 August 1997 (122 years, 164 days )

The oldest human was Jeanne Louise Calment. She was born on 21 February 1875 in Arles, France. She died 4 August 1997 (122 years, 164 days )

The average human lifespan has been increasing over the past one hundred years.  In this chart, blue represents males, magenta represents females.


UCSF Memory and Aging Center Study

UCSF Memory and Aging Center Study

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?

Young Brain  vs.  Elderly Brain

Young Brain  vs.  Elderly Brain

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…


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