Chapter 2: Neuroscience as a Basis for Adult Development and Aging

  1. Structural neuroimaging
    provides highly detailed images of anatomical features of the brain; actual anatomy

    includes: X-rays, CT (3D/ layered images), and MRI
  2. Functional neuroimaging
    • provides an indication of brain activity
    • --> fMRI: how much blood is going to different areas
    • --> PET: shoot you up w/ glucose and make you do an activity. The radioactive glucose will glow and light up.
  3. Neuroscience perspectives
    • neuropsychological
    • neurocorrelational
    • activation imaging approach
  4. Neuropsychological approach
    compares healthy older adults with those with patrhological disorders of the brain
  5. Neurocorrelational approach
    Relates structure to function

    I.E. the ability to remember info over short periods of time and size of specific brain parts
  6. Activation imaging approach
    Links functional brain activity with cognitive behavior data; activity going on

    • Younger: one hemisphere activity
    • Older: both hemispheres
  7. Neuron
    • cell of the nervous system responsible for receiving and transmitting electrochemical information
    • --> the basic building block of the nervous system 
    • --> each one sends and receives signals
  8. The neurons are held together by __, which do what?
    glial cells

    provide structural, nutritional, and other support for the neurons
  9. Three major parts of the neuron
    • dendrite 
    • axon 
    • cell body
  10. Additional parts of the neuron
    • myelin sheath
    • axon terminal branches
    • axon terminal buds/ buttons
    • vesicles
    • NT
    • receptor sites
  11. What is action potential?
    the chemical process of neurons communicating with one another
  12. Neuroanatomy
    the study of the structure of the brain
  13. Structures of the brain
    cerebellum: coordination/ balance/ movement

    medulla HR, BP, automatic/ involuntary/ breathing

    hippocampus: ability to form short, new memories

    amygdala: emotional memory/ self-regulation

    hypothalamus: hunger, thirst, sex, aggression

    cerebral cortex: outer layer of the brain

    corpus callosum: connects the hemispheres

    thalamus: relay center
  14. Lobes of the cerebral cortex
    frontal: higher cognitive function, personality, memory, decision-making, learning 

    occipital: vision

    temporal: hearing

    parietal: skin/ sensory
  15. Limbic system
    combines the hippocampus and the amydala

    ability to process new memories and experience emotion
  16. What are age-related changes in neurons?
    • number of neurons declines
    • number and size of dendrites decreases
    • tangles develop in axon fibers
    • increases in deposits of proteins 
    • number of synapses decreases
  17. Age related changes in NT?
    dopamine is associated with higher-level cognitive functioning, so declines are related to poorer: 

    • - episodic memory
    • - tasks that require fast processing

    Serotonin and acetylcholine also decline with age
  18. Neurotransmitters
    • acetylcholine
    • dopamine
    • GABA
    • glutamate
    • norepinephrine 
    • serotonin
  19. acetylcholine
    • muscle contraction
    • memory

    associated with Alzheimers
  20. Dopamine
    any type of pleasure

    • pleasure centers
    • brain's ability to process cognitive function

    • Parkinson's 
    • Schizophrenics
    • Addiction
  21. GABA
    • inhibitory NT
    • --> keeps you calm
  22. glutamate
    #1 excitatory NT
  23. norepinephrine
    • form of adrenaline
    • deals with autonomic NS
  24. serotonin
    mood and appetite

    an excess is mood disorders
  25. Age-related changes in brain structures
    White matter hyperintensities

    Considerable shrinkage occurs in the brain
  26. White matter hyperintensities (WMH)
    indicates myelin loss or neural atrophy
  27. White matter
    neurons covered by myelin that transit info throughout the cerebral cortex
  28. Where is considerable shrinkage?
    especially in the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and cerebellum
  29. How can we measure age related changes in brain structures?
    Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)
  30. DTI
    provides index of density or structural health of the white matter; how dense is your matter? 

    assesses the rate and direction that water diffuses through the white matter; if not dense, water moves quickly
  31. What structural brain changes mean: executive functioning
    • difficulty focusing solely on relevant information
    • Due to WMH and reduced volume of prefrontal cortex
  32. What structural brain changes mean: memory
    specific structural changes result in memory decline
  33. What structural brain changes mean: emotion
    increased processing of positive emotional information with age

    better emotion regulation with age

    decrease in negative emotion processing; increase in positive

    could be the result of more meaningful relationships in adulthood
  34. What structural brain changes mean: social-emotional cognition
    older adults may rely more on automatic judgment processes than reflective processing

    amygdala shows less decline
  35. What structural brain changes mean: prefrontal cortex
    shows more deterioration later in life; reflective process

    they have trouble with decision making; ability to pick up key features and focus on irrelevant things; memory declines

    The Positivity Effect
  36. The Positivity Effect
    older adults are more motivated to derive emotional meaning from and to maintain positive feelngs than younger adults
  37. What s interesting about the amygdala in elderly?
    • it does not show a decline
    • elderly brain focuses more on positie emotion, leading to the Positivity effect
  38. What are the two ways of making decisions
    younger: more reflective--> prefrontal cortex

    older: automatic in decsion-making (elderly have no option); they have to interact
  39. The Parieto-Frontal Integration Theory (PFIT)
    answers where is intelligence in the brain; where does it reside? 

    New imaging shows networks between the frontal and parietal lobes

    individual differences in ntellgence results from individual differences in brain structures
  40. Younger adults exhibit __, while older adults exhibt __.

    What are older adults doing?
    unilateral activity

    bilateral activity

  41. Three theories of brain-behavior changes


  42. HAROLD
    we have to use the second side to solve the problem because the neurons are gone

    The one sde recruits neurons from the other side

    additional neurons are recruited to do what they struggle with
  43. What do older adults struggle with?
    • processing speed
    • inhibitory control
    • attentional resources
  44. CRUNCH
    • here is the task
    • attempt it like usual 
    • if you can't solve it, we'll bail you out

    subjectivity based on the task

    makes it more personal to the person
  45. STAC
    other neurons are being scaffolded

    neural networks scaffold the info over to the other side for use

    Default network theory
  46. Default network theory
    when you're doing nothng, your default network is in gear

    if you're on a task, the DN isn't there

    Older adults have a hard time shutting it down
  47. Plasticity
    brain's ability to interact with environment and bounce back

    if your neurons are dead, they don't regrow

    importance of keeping brain active

    cognitive ability in memory tasks enhanced through training strategies (highly task-specific)
  48. Neural stem cells
    • give rse to new neurons
    • persist in adult brains and can generate new cells throughout adulthood
    • possible cure to brain disease and creation of new brains
    • controversial topic
  49. Role of exercise in the aging brain
    brain plasticity is enhanced by aerobic exercise
  50. Role of nutrition in the aging brain
    researchers are beginning to understand the relations between categories of nutrients and brain structures

    increased cognitive function: vitamins B, C, D, and E; omega-3

    Decreased cognitive function: high trans fats
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Chapter 2: Neuroscience as a Basis for Adult Development and Aging