Glossary

Alzheimer's disease A progressive neurodegenerative disease causing dementia that is common in the elderly, whose symptoms include memory dysfunction, deficient cognitive function, and an inability to deal with the activities of daily living. Neuropathologi-cally, it is characterized by the presence of senile plaques, neurofibrillary tangles, and neuronal loss in the hippocampal area, association areas of the cerebral cortex, and a number of subcortical nuclei, including the nucleus basalis of Meynert.

nucleus basalis of Meynert A group of neurons in the basal forebrain that project to the cerebral cortex, constituting the cholinergic input to the cerebral cortex.

typical and successful aging Typical aging refers to individuals who are cognitively intact, even though they may have some nondementing illness that could affect brain structure and/or function (e.g., hypertension); successful aging refers to individuals who are free of any illness that could affect brain structure or function.

white matter hyperintensities Abnormal signals in the white matter observed with magnetic resonance imaging. Two kinds are denoted: periventricular white matter hyperintensities and deep white matter hyperintensities.

This article reviews some of the changes that occur in the human brain with advancing age. After some introductory comments, we give a brief overview of the age-related alterations in cognition and sensorimotor performance, discuss senescent changes in brain structure at the macroscopic and cellular levels, and examine age-associated changes in brain function as assessed by functional neuroimaging.

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