Stem-cell-associated structural and functional plasticity in the aging hippocampus

Psychol Aging. 2008 Dec;23(4):684-91. doi: 10.1037/a0014188.


Aging frequently leads to a functional decline across multiple cognitive domains, often resulting in a severe reduction in life quality and also causing substantial care-related costs. Understanding age-associated structural and functional changes of neural circuitries within the brain is required to improve successful aging. In this review, the authors focus on age-dependent alterations of the hippocampus and the decline of hippocampal function, which are critically involved in processes underlying certain forms of learning and memory. Despite the dramatic reductions in hippocampus-dependent function that accompany advancing age, there is also striking evidence that even the aged brain retains a high level of plasticity. Thus, one promising avenue to reach the goal of successful aging might be to boost and recruit this plasticity, which is the interplay between neural structure, function, and experience, to prevent age-related cognitive decline and age-associated comorbidities.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cellular Senescence / physiology
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Hippocampus / anatomy & histology
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Nerve Net / anatomy & histology
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology
  • Neurogenesis / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Stem Cells / physiology*