Programmheft 2014 - page 120

Akademie St. Johann
Arbeitsgruppe 1
Aging of the brain and cognition: What do we know
and what can we do about it?
Prof. Dr. Naftali Raz
Institut für Gerontologie, Wayne State University, Detroit
Prof. Dr. Barbara Tettenborn
Klinik für Neurologie, Kantonsspital St. Gallen und
Universität Mainz
Studierende der Psychologie, Biologie, Gehirnforschung,
Kognitionswissenschaft, Medizin; auch für interessierte Studie-
rende aller anderen Fächer geeignet
Within a relatively short time, human life span has increased significantly. However, ex-
tension of health span remains a challenge. To meet this challenge, we need to understand
how the brain and behavior change with age and how these changes affect health. The
main objective of this seminar is to provide the participants with a stimulating environ-
ment for a guided exploration of problems in adult development and aging of the central
nervous system. How does our brain function in youth and how does it change with age?
When does development end and aging begin and if such turning point exists, does it oc-
cur at the same time in all individuals? Do all systems, circuits and components of the
brain change at the same pace? Do all people age according to the same uniform program?
Do age-related changes in the brain inevitably lead to cognitive declines? Which neurolo-
gical diseases accompany the advanced age? How can we diagnose them in advance and
what can we do about them? Can we treat, slow down or even prevent pathological aging?
What accounts for the individual differences in aging trajectories?
In addressing these questions, we will focus on the course of age-related changes in the
brain and cognition, its modifiers, as well as neurological symptoms and signs associated
with old age. In discussing age-related changes in the brain we will draw on longitudinal
studies of gross brain anatomy, white matter organization and functional connectivity.
We will examine the role of genetic variation in shaping the course of aging, and we will
put a special emphasis on modifiable risk factors, especially those that pertain to vascu-
lar and metabolic health. Pathological changes and events that accompany aging will be
discussed with demonstrations of modern diagnostic methods and in the context of po-
tential for compensatory intervention. Finally, we will discuss the proposed strategies of
intervention aimed at ameliorating age-related cognitive declines.
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