Question: how is your brain changing as you get older?


  1. When we get older there are a number of things which happen to our brains.

    If you look at a brain, you will notice that there are ridges and fissures – the bumpy ridges are called “gyri” and the fissures “sulci.” So, as we get older, brain scans show that the size of the sulci increase, and the gyri decrease, so essentially you have less mass of brain matter. For a picture –

    Secondly, your brain can start getting things called ‘plaques’ and ‘tangles’ and these are basically changes to your brain cells which stop them from working so effectively. These plaques and tangles can also cause things like dementia and Alzheimer’s because they affect how well neurons communicate with each other.

    The best way to keep a healthy brain as you get older is to exercise, which maintains good blood flow to the brain, preventing plaques and tangles, and to keep using your brain!!



  1. When I first starting studying neuroscience, we were taught that the brain loses neurons with age. Though now we know this isn’t entirely true, rather, we can lose connections between our neurons!


  2. can the plagues and tangles be fatal to older humans.


    • Hi Lachlanmac,
      The plaques and tangles can stop the brain cells from working properly, they seem to happen in Alzheimer’s disease. People with Alzheimer’s don’t actually die from having the brain disease, but they die because of things such as lung infections and heart disease. This is because the patient is usually bed-ridden and unable to move around. So we say that the Alzheimer’s contributed to the person’s death, but didn’t actually kill them.