Scientists have found why mammals, including man, it is difficult in old age to learn something new.
The loss of connections between neurons in the striatum of the brain reduces motivation in older.
Experts from the University of Queensland (Brisbane, Australia) conducted an experiment whose purpose was to assess capacity for knowledge, and found that with age, the connections between neurons in the striatum of the brain, which controls motivation and solutions are lost, it makes the person or animal is unable to seek and to perceive new information.
Jesus Bertran-Gonzalez (Jesus Bertran-Gonzalez) noted that at the first stage it is important to recognize that a loss of motivation with age is a disease and required to develop measures to combat it. Concern for the preservation of motivation, according to the scientist, should begin as early as possible to the constant stress on this part of the brain contributed to the long-term preservation of its functions. Scientists said that if not only cares about the elderly, but also to create the conditions under which it becomes interesting to do something, then it will reduce the risk of the onset of dementia.
In the process of experiment for discovering abilities to cognition in old age, the researchers used laboratory mice. Young and old mice were trained to press a lever to receive a portion of food. Pressing one lever gave the rodents a sweet feed and the other conventional. In the experiment, the functions of the levers of change. For example, in order to was issued a sweet shot, the mouse had to press the lever not just once but twice. Scientists believe that this approach has forced rodents to seek ways of obtaining food and analyze algorithms.
As shown by observation by young and old rodents easily coped with the task in the first stage, however, after changing the functions of the levers in elderly mice had difficulties – they haphazardly clicked on the first and second lever, while receiving the regular feed, are sweet, and are unable to develop an algorithm of action in the changed circumstances.
After the analysis of the brain it turned out that the reason for this failure lies in the weakening of the connection between two different neurons in the striatum. This division is responsible for the development of new conditioned reflexes, motivation and evaluation of changing conditions.
The change in transmission of impulses in the chain PF-CIN was the reason that laboratory rodents have lost the ability to find new solutions. In fact, the result of observation showed that in old age the motivation is seriously hampered.
The scientists decided to double-check the data and made changes in this chain neuron in young animals. As shown by observation, a young mouse with a damaged relationship showed the same problems in finding the right solutions, and the elderly.
Now scientists are trying to establish also other changes that may undermine motivation in the elderly, and trying to develop approaches to the prevention of destructions in the chain of neurons.
About the study announced a special edition of “Neuron”.