The experiences we have throughout life actively shape our brains. From birth through the final stages of life, brain cells and the connections between them are changing in response to the environment. With increasingly sophisticated technology, researchers are exploring changes in brain cell structure and function throughout life more closely than ever before. What they are finding could one day guide new strategies to boost brain health and promote earlier recognition of brain disease.
With imaging and the use of molecular and genetic tools, researchers are identifying key differences between the healthy brains of children, teenagers, and older adults. While many questions about the developing and aging brain remain, human and animal studies have demonstrated how a person’s lifestyle influences brain health over time. Recent studies also highlight the brain’s remarkable ability to adapt to life experiences.