Mitigating cognitive decline with psychological and behavioral interventions

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published “The Brain Fights Back: New Approaches to Mitigating Cognitive Decline,” on 12-15-15.   This interesting article begins by reviewing research about “biological mechanisms underlying brain resilience,” with an initial emphasis on the potential to develop medications “that enhance the brain’s own defensive mechanisms” that reduce cognitive decline as we age.  The article goes on, however, to discuss research that finds that behavioral changes help with this, such as maintain social activities, a healthy diet and a physically active lifestyle.

This line of research is teasing out the details of brain changes that help with cognitive resiliency as the brain ages, and it is clearly tempting for medical professionals to focus on using medication to manipulate these brain changes.  This information may, however, be used by behavioral professionals to offer assistance to people who are concerns about losing their cognitive abilities as they age  and also marketing their services to primary care providers and organizations who serve the aging population.  As the demographics of the American population become “grayer,” this will be an increasingly important service to offer.

Viewing the entire article requires a subscription to JAMA, but the abstract and first page may be viewed online for free.

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