Do our brain cells die as we age?

David A. Merrill, MD
Back in the old days, it was thought that as we went through life we lost neurons day by day, but research studies have refuted that. In fact, there's widespread conservation of brain cells as we age -- neurons do not die out with normal aging. They actually undergo more subtle changes.

If anything, as we get older, the development of new cells continues in parts of the brain, including the memory centers of the brain. But the way that the neurons communicate, both electrically and chemically, changes. You may see a decreased number of synapses, or connections, between cells. You may see changes in the neurotransmitters systems, the chemicals that communicate between cells. You may also see the signaling pathway within the neuron changing, so pathways that used to promote neural outgrowth and learning may be disabled, while the actual survival pathways may stay intact.

Continue Learning about Healthy Aging

Tips to Live a Longer and Healthier Life
Tips to Live a Longer and Healthier Life
Life expectancy in North America is at an all-time high. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans born in ...
Read More
Why isn’t the fear of dying a sustainable motivator?
Dr. Michelle Cleere - Sharecare Fitness Expert, PhDDr. Michelle Cleere - Sharecare Fitness Expert, PhD
If someone is not motivated death is not likely to motivate them. There are several reasons the fear...
More Answers
How can simplifying our lives keep us young?
Arianna HuffingtonArianna Huffington
Clearing out things -- clothes, objects, equipment we no longer need or use -- gives us a freedom an...
More Answers
How Important Is Stress Management to Brain Health?
How Important Is Stress Management to Brain Health?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.