The adult brain is plastic and learning continues into the oldest ages. The aging population is heterogenous. Good memory function will depend on a complex interaction of biological, psychological and social variables. The past decade has seen an explosion of research on the aging brain and its cognitive correlates, which has opened up new avenues for intervention that might reduce the negative effects of aging on memory. Increasing evidence of plasticity in the brain of older adults indicates that learning continues into the oldest ages and that there is considerable potential to modify the downward trajectories in memory function that have been associated with normal aging. Yet the field has lagged behind in the translation of the science into practical application. Nevertheless, there are some promising new developments emerging from a range of perspectives - biological, cognitive, neuropsychological and psychosocial - that, although not yet definitive, suggest directions in which memory rehabilitation might proceed. One of the difficulties in providing a set of principles on which to base memory interventions for older adults lies in the heterogeneity of the aging population (Glisky et al., 1995). Some individuals are vigorous and cognitively competent at age 80, while others are struggling to maintain function at age 60. Moreover, some abilities seem to hold up well or even increase with age while others diminish. How aging affects memory likely depends on a complex interaction of biological, psychological, environmental and lifestyle variables, and interventions might target any of these areas.
- Neurology and clinical neuroscience
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