Connection Between Age-related Cognitive Decline and Dopamine Levels

While scientists broadly accept cognitive decline to be a natural part of aging, a new study is showing a strong link between dopamine and brain function in both younger and older adults.

Findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

As people age there is a decline in the dopamine system. A group of researchers now have studied the connection between the dopamine system and cognitive function.

While the brain dynamics of high-functioning adults are characterized by greater brain signal variability than that of older people, the study showed interesting data when young and old were contrasted along with dopamine enhancing drugs. It found that with dopamine enhancement drugs the older adults met or exceeded brain signal variability of the younger people in the study.
The researchers have concluded there is strong evidence for amphetamine-related changes in signal variability related to aging and working memory. Because the older adults were able to match or even surpass the younger adults in response to dopamine agonism the study shows the connection between dopamine level manipulation and brain dynamics, and age.

Dr. Althea Fleming, ND, at Vital Aging Clinic in Anacortes, Wash. Said, “Dopamine is one of many neurochemicals that can decline with age.”

When looking at ways to mitigate cognitive decline several treatment approaches do help boost dopamine.

“Increasing exercise has known clinical benefit in cognitive function in older adults both from a treatment as well as a preventative perspective,” she said. “Healthy protein intake helps naturally provide the building blocks for all of our neurotransmitters, including dopamine.

“Healthy anti-aging promotes good brain chemistry,” Fleming said.

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