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Aging and Sensory and Physical Changes Lecture 4 – PS277.

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1 Aging and Sensory and Physical Changes Lecture 4 – PS277

2 Darwin in Youth and Later Life

3 Lecture Outline  Overview of aging and physical changes  Sensory system changes  Cardio-vascular systems and disorders  Changes in the brain and nervous system

4 I. Overview of Some Primary Changes Across Adulthood Function:Age of Change:Nature of Change VisionMid-40’sLens thickens, poorer near vision HearingMid-50’sLoss of high and low tones SmellAbout 40Poorer detection and discrimination Heart & Lungs35-40Aerobic capacity during work Height40Compression of disks in spine Skin40Wrinkling, oil secretion poorer Bones35Loss of calcium, osteoporosis – increased porosity

5 Some General Points on Physical Aging- Nuland (2007)  Individual variability is great  Systems generally maintain competence despite some losses at maximums  Several factors: biological changes, disease, environment, personal attitudes all interact in predicting and explaining aging process  These changes themselves are not diseases, but they predispose some people to certain diseases  Physical changes have important implications for psychological functioning

6 II. Sensory Predictors of Cognitive Functioning – Lindenberger & Baltes (1994)

7 III. Cardiovascular Changes with Age  Circulation of blood, heart, arteries, carries oxygen from lungs  Deposits of fat in arteries of heart, stiffening of arteries with age (atherosclerosis)  Heart must work harder with age, highest output declines  Blood pressure gradually rises with age – hypertension can result  None of these are diseases in themselves, just changes with age, but make disease more likely

8 Chronic Conditions in Later Life Percentages Suffering From Each Type

9 Canadian Adult Death Rates by Disease Type

10 Types of Cardiovascular Disease  Heart problems – congestive heart failure, angina pectoris, myocardial infarction (heart attack)  Atherosclerosis – restriction of blood flow in arteries due to fatty deposits  Strokes (CVAs, TIAs) – blood flow interruptions to brain, paralysis, speech problems, risk factor for dementia  Psychological consequences: Role of circulatory system in brain and cognitive function – quite a direct impact: jogging is good for health and for mind…

11 IV. Changes in Brain - Major Components at Cellular Level  Neurons: axons plus cell bodies – electrical pathways  Synapses = 1,000,000,000,000,000 in brain  Dendrites = connect to next neurons at synapses  Neurotransmitters: chemical pathways that cross synapses

12 Changes in Brain with Age  Overall weight loss = 5%  Some loss of neurons, but new ones can grow and new synapses can form too  Substantial loss of dendrites leads to some slowing at synapses – one of the key markers of aging  Changes in some neurotransmitters – loss in dopamine and acetylcholine, but some increases too  Most of these changes more marked with disease!

13 Some Modest Increases in Alzheimer- Like Problems – Brain Sections  Tangles: tadpoles, axon fibres twisted together  Plaques: blobs, dying neurons coalesce around protein core  If these are common enough, they can be used to indicate 6 stages of Alzheimer’s disease

14 Psychological Implications of Changes: The Nun Study – Snowdon, 2001  Followed large sample of 700 nuns from convent in US Midwest into late adulthood  Tested every year on cognitive function, brains were donated and studied after death  Observed physiological levels of plaques and tangles don’t fully predict memory loss, decline into Alzheimer’s symptoms  Some people resist expressing this behaviorally  Patterns of stroke seem to interact with these biological markers, magnify problems

15 Pictures of Centenarian Nuns

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