Characterizing cognitive aging in humans with links to animal models

Academic Article

Abstract

  • With the population of older adults expected to grow rapidly over the next two decades, it has become increasingly important to advance research efforts to elucidate the mechanisms associated with cognitive aging, with the ultimate goal of developing effective interventions and prevention therapies. Although there has been a vast research literature on the use of cognitive tests to evaluate the effects of aging and age-related neurodegenerative disease, the need for a set of standardized measures to characterize the cognitive profiles specific to healthy aging has been widely recognized. Here we present a review of selected methods and approaches that have been applied in human research studies to evaluate the effects of aging on cognition, including executive function, memory, processing speed, language, and visuospatial function. The effects of healthy aging on each of these cognitive domains are discussed with examples from cognitive/experimental and clinical/neuropsychological approaches. Further, we consider those measures that have clear conceptual and methodological links to tasks currently in use for non-human animal studies of aging, as well as those that have the potential for translation to animal aging research. Having a complementary set of measures to assess the cognitive profiles of healthy aging across species provides a unique opportunity to enhance research efforts for cross-sectional, longitudinal, and intervention studies of cognitive aging. Taking a cross-species, translational approach will help to advance cognitive aging research, leading to a greater understanding of associated neurobiological mechanisms with the potential for developing effective interventions and prevention therapies for age-related cognitive decline. © 2012 Alexander, Ryan, Bowers, Foster, Bizon, Geldmacher and Glisky.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 15167826
  • Author List

  • Alexander GE; Ryan L; Bowers D; Foster TC; Bizon JL; Geldmacher DS; Glisky EL
  • Volume

  • 4
  • Issue

  • SEP