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Ageing at system level: neurological ageing 

Ageing at system level: neurological ageing
Chapter:
Ageing at system level: neurological ageing
Author(s):

Anand Prakash

and Kailash Krishnan

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199604999.003.0005
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date: 18 August 2019

This chapter summarizes the changes that occur in the central nervous system with ageing. Neuronal cell loss occurs progressively, especially in the grey matter, in many areas although the cerebrospinal fluid volume is preserved. Cerebellar loss is less marked than in the cerebral cortex. Specific losses lead to well-recognized symptoms, such as memory loss, reduced attention, and dementias. The peripheral nervous system is affected with declines in function in all special senses and the autonomic system, although pain perception is not believed to change significantly. Balance is frequently compromised, although the exact cause is not clear due to the complex interplay at the spinal, brainstem, and cerebellar levels. Vision, smell, taste, and hearing all progressively decline with age. The sympathetic autonomic system is characterized by a reduced sensitivity to circulating adrenergic neurotransmitters and impaired baroreceptor responsiveness. In contrast, the parasympathetic system is far less impaired with age.

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