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Ageing brains can be rewired

Ageing brains can be rewired
29th May 2012

Undergoing highly sensory experiences throughout lifetime can benefit an ageing brain by aiding the rewiring process.

While it has long been thought that the brain's wiring is fixed by adolescence, a study by researchers at the Max Planck Florida Institute and Columbia University made a remarkable discovery.

They found that changes in sensory experience can cause significant rewiring in the brain, something that could have huge implications in memory and ageing.

MPFI neuroscientist Dr Marcel Oberlaender, lead author on the paper, said that the study overturns decades-old beliefs.

"[It] may suggest that if one stops learning and experiencing new things as one ages, a substantial amount of connections within the brain may be lost," he explained.

As part of the study they took regular high resolution imaging of rats' brains after trimming and then cutting off their whiskers.

Despite being relatively old, the rats' brains rewired to cope with the sensory changes.