What Happens to the Brain as We Age?

The brain is an intricate organ that undergoes more changes throughout our lifetimes than any other organ. The development of our brains begins four weeks after conception and peaks in our twenties. Decreased brain function is inevitable as we age, but we can slow the process and keep our brains sharp with a healthy lifestyle and the right supplements. 

What Happens to Brain Function at 60?

By twenty-seven years old, the brain is considered to have reached its peak. By your thirties, neurons in the brain start to decrease, resulting in decreased memory recall and slower thought-processing speed. In your forties and fifties, the ability to reason and verbal fluency decline. 

Brain function at 60 declines further as our brains begin to shrink. Some areas of the brain experience cell death as we get older. You are less capable of learning new things when you reach your sixties. At this age, it also becomes increasingly more difficult to recall information. Individuals over sixty-five are at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

What Happens To The Brain Function At 70?

Brain function at 70 is altered as a result of decreased brain mass. The hippocampus and frontal lobe areas of the brain begin to shrink around sixty or seventy years old. These areas of the brain are responsible for storing new memories and higher cognitive function.

While people are at an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease in their sixties and seventies, it is not a normal part of the brain's aging process. Some examples of common changes in the brain as we age include:

  • Difficulty learning new things
  • Slower processing 
  • Inability to multitask
  • Decline in strategic memory or recalling names and numbers
  • Decreased ability to remember appointments

Does Your Brain Get Worse as You Age?

A common question about aging is, "Does your brain get worse as you age?". The brain shrinks, and some functions decrease as we get older, but there is some good news. Studies show that we actually grow wiser as time goes on. Older adults tend to have:

  • A more expansive vocabulary than their younger selves
  • A positive increase in moral decision-making
  • Increased ability to regulate emotions
  • Better ability to interpret social situations
  • Better ability to focus on positive memories

While there are many ways in which brain function declines as we get older, it is normal, and there is no need to worry. Older adults can still learn new skills. Memory is affected by aging, but we can still form new memories. 

At What Age Does the Brain Decline?

Studies indicate that the human brain reaches its peak between the ages of twenty-two and twenty-seven. At what age does the brain decline? The brain begins to decline by age thirty as its volume begins to shrink, and it experiences: 

  • Cognitive changes
  • Structural changes
  • Neuronal changes
  • Chemical changes

At What Age Is the Brain the Sharpest?

If you are wondering about what age your brain is the sharpest, there are studies to indicate it may be as early as in our teenage years. One study found the following cognitive functions peak at these specific ages:

  • 18 years old - Brain processing power and detail memory
  • 22 years old - The ability to learn unfamiliar names
  • 32 years old - Facial recognition
  • 43 years old - Concentration
  • 48 years old - Ability to identify people's emotions
  • 50 years old - Basic arithmetic skills and ability to learn and understand new information
  • 67 years old - Vocabulary skills

How Do You Know If Your Brain Is Shrinking?

Are you having trouble remembering things and wondering if your brain is shrinking? If you are over the age of 30, the answer is yes. The brain begins to shrink in size between thirty and forty years of age. The rate at which the brain shrinks increases once we hit our sixties. 

Some areas of the brain shrink more quickly than others. The outer layer of the brain, known as the cerebral cortex, gets thinner with age. Brain shrinkage in the frontal lobe is most obvious. The frontal lobe is responsible for processing: 

  • Memory
  • Emotions
  • Impulse control
  • Problem-solving
  • Social interaction
  • Motor function

The temporal lobe also experiences thinning and shrinking. Located behind the ears, the temporal lobe controls:

  • Language comprehension
  • Speech
  • Reading and writing
  • Associating words with their meanings

How Can I Stop My Brain From Aging?

Can I stop my brain from aging? An aging body and brain are unavoidable. Our genetics play a large role in how our brains age. If you want to know how to slow the rate at which your brain shrinks, follow these steps:

  1. Engage in cardiovascular activity several times per week
  2. Eat a healthy diet
  3. Decrease alcohol consumption
  4. Quit smoking
  5. Keep your brain stimulated by reading, doing crossword puzzles, etc.
  6. Wear a helmet to prevent brain injury 
  7. Adapt your current sleep schedule to ensure adequate rest
  8. Decrease stress
  9. Maintain relationships with friends and family and continue socializing
  10. Take supplements

What Is A Fuzzy Brain?

Fuzzy brain is a term that has been in the media a lot lately in relation to long-term COVID-19 symptoms. It is also associated with the aging brain. But what is fuzzy brain? Fuzzy brain is another term for brain fog. These terms refer to the inability to think clearly, a lack of sharp memory, and difficulty with focus. 

One of the main causes of brain fog or fuzzy brain is lack of sleep. It can be difficult to focus and function normally when you are tired. Getting eight hours of sleep each night will help decrease fuzzy brain symptoms.

Does Memory Change With Age?

Does memory change with age? Simple forgetfulness is part of the natural aging process. It may take a little longer to recall names or dates as we get older. The tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon is common as we age. This is when we are unable to remember the words we are trying to communicate. 

Older people experience some memory changes that are not a part of the normal aging process. Those who suffer from mild cognitive impairment or dementia may experience:

  • Forgetting recent events
  • Repeating the same questions and the same stories
  • Sometimes forgetting the names of friends and family members
  • Frequently forgetting appointments or planned events
  • Forgetting conversations
  • Misplacing items often
  • Having trouble coming up with the desired words
  • Difficulty understanding written or verbal information
  • Losing focus or being easily distracted

Does Intelligence Decline With Age?

When learning the ways the brain shrinks and changes during the aging process, you may find yourself wondering, "Does intelligence decline as you age?". While recalling information and the ability to learn new information may slow as we age, intelligence does not decline.

Studies have proven that vocabulary peaks in most adults in the late sixties or early seventies. 

It is believed that we accumulate facts and knowledge throughout our lives that help us function at a higher level. This accumulated knowledge is known as crystallized intelligence.