The mechanisms involved in plasticity in the nervous system are thought to support cognition, and some of these processes are affected during normal ageing. Notably, cognitive functions that rely on the medial temporal lobe and prefrontal cortex, such as learning, memory and executive function, show considerable age-related decline. It is therefore not surprising that several neural mechanisms in these brain areas also seem to be particularly vulnerable during the ageing process. In this review, we discuss major advances in our understanding of age-related changes in the medial temporal lobe and prefrontal cortex and how these changes in functional plasticity contribute to behavioural impairments in the absence of significant pathology.
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