Plasticity of the aging brain: new directions in cognitive neuroscience

Science. 2014 Oct 31;346(6209):579-82. doi: 10.1126/science.1254604.


Cognitive neuroscience has revealed aging of the human brain to be rich in reorganization and change. Neuroimaging results have recast our framework around cognitive aging from one of decline to one emphasizing plasticity. Current methods use neurostimulation approaches to manipulate brain function, providing a direct test of the ways that the brain differently contributes to task performance for younger and older adults. Emerging research into emotional, social, and motivational domains provides some evidence for preservation with age, suggesting potential avenues of plasticity, alongside additional evidence for reorganization. Thus, we begin to see that aging of the brain, amidst interrelated behavioral and biological changes, is as complex and idiosyncratic as the brain itself, qualitatively changing over the life span.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aging*
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain / ultrastructure
  • Cognition*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Humans
  • Neuroimaging
  • Neuronal Plasticity*
  • Neurosciences / trends
  • Young Adult