The brain is one of the most complex parts of the human nervous system, and certain characteristics of it may indicate its approximate age.
While there’s no test you can take from the comfort of your home to definitively determine how old or young your brain is, we can think of a young, healthy brain as one that’s functioning at its peak capabilities.
And, more often than not, peak brain function is associated with a sharp memory.
Brain function as a function of age
In the case of younger brains, the process called neural differentiation it is efficient and robust. As part of this process, certain specific brain cells are tasked with remembering certain types of information, such as the faces of people we meet throughout our lives.
As we age, this process breaks down, so cells lose their specificity and don’t work as well. Instead of focusing only on faces, the cells try to remember other types of information as well.
The risk of developing dementia increases by 60% every two years for a centenarian
A study published in 2021 revealed some surprising answers. Over the course of eighteen months, the study followed 330 people, referred to as SuperAgers. These were 100 years old or more, appropriately Big Think.
The researchers found no decline in most areas of memory or cognitive abilities. They explained, however, that although a year and a half does not seem like a long time, once a person reaches the century mark, two years for that person will be like 25 years for a seventy-five-year-old in terms of concerns brain health.
For example, the risk of developing dementia increases by 60% every two years after the age of 100, while for a 75-year-old it takes twenty-five years for the risk of dementia to increase by the same value.
Do you know the approximate age of your brain?
While you can’t sneak into a brain scanner to find out your own brain age, there are a few factors that may help you better understand the indicators of brain age. Here are some key questions:
- Executive Functioning – How well can I manage my day?
- Balance and coordination – How well can I move and maintain my balance?
- Ability to learn and retain – How well can I remember important information?
- Movement – How fast can I go?
- Identity – How old do I feel?
Of course, none of these questions can replace an actual brain scan and comprehensive evaluation by a neurologist. However, these basic categories can help people imagine what their actual brain age is.