Brain and cognitive ageing: The present, and some predictions (…about the future)

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Experiencing decline in one’s cognitive abilities is among the most feared aspects of growing old [53]. Age-related cognitive decline carries a huge personal, societal, and financial cost both in pathological ageing (such as dementias) and also within the non-clinical majority of the population. A projected 152 million people worldwide will suffer from dementia by 2050 [3]. The early stages of cognitive decline are much more prevalent than dementia, and can still impose serious limitations of performance on everyday activities, independence, and quality of life in older age [5], [60], [80]. Cognitive decline also predicts poorer health, adherence to medical regimens, and financial decision-making, and can herald dementia, illness, and death [6], [40]. Of course, when seeking to understand why some people experience more severe cognitive ageing than others, researchers have turned to the organ of thinking for clues about the nature, possible mechanisms, and determinants that might underpin more and less successful cognitive agers. However, that organ is relatively inaccessible, a limitation partly alleviated by advances in neuroimaging. Here we discuss lessons for cognitive and brain ageing that have come from neuroimaging research (especially structural brain imaging), what neuroimaging still has left to teach us, and our views on possible ways forward in this multidisciplinary field.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100032
JournalAging Brain
Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • brain ageing
  • structural MRI
  • diffusion MRI
  • review
  • longitudinal studies
  • epidemiology


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