How do our brain structure and cognitive abilities change across the lifespan?
As we get older, many things change, including our brain structure and our cognitive abilities. Scientists often focus on changes of individual cognitive functions (like memory), or brain structure (like grey matter = nerve cells which do the brain’s “work”). However, it is equally important to study how these functions and structures are related to each other, and whether this relationship changes across the lifespan. For instance, it might be that memory performance is very similar to reasoning performance in young individuals, but not in older adults. In other words, it could be that children with good memories also have good reasoning abilities, whereas this is not the case in older individuals.
In a new study using Lifebrain data, the researchers of the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit at the University of Cambridge investigated whether and when brain connections change with age and how these changes map onto our cognitive functions across the adult lifespan.
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