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Cognition and the Aging Brain

The average life span is increasing across the globe, and with it the social and economic concerns of caring for an aging population. Dr. Brian Levine, a board certified clinical neuropsychologist and expert on human memory, will explain the processes underlying healthy brain aging, how healthy aging is differentiated from dementia and how the major dementia syndromes are recognized.

The aging of the population has massive economic and social implications. There is particular concern regarding age-related changes in the brain with associated changes in cognition. Everyone ages differently, with some aging gracefully into their 90s and beyond, and others succumbing to early-onset dementia. Although some dementias are inherited, many have modifiable risk factors. Implementation of practices that promote healthy brain aging could save the economy billions of dollars and spare millions the emotional and social cost of preventable brain disease. Recent evidence suggests that the optimal age for dementia risk factor modification is lower than expected. In other words, an investment in healthy brain aging in middle age, early adulthood and even childhood could pay off later on terms of delayed or prevented dementia.

Students will learn the processes underlying healthy brain aging, how healthy aging is differentiated from dementia and how the major dementia syndromes are recognized. Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment (a precursor to Alzheimer’s) will receive special emphasis, but other common forms of dementia (e.g., frontotemporal dementia, vascular dementia) will also be covered. This course will incorporate the latest findings on functional brain imaging with genetic and nongenetic risk factors to enhance prediction of cognitive decline, which is essential for identification of novel therapeutic interventions.

Scientific American

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