Well + Good: Aging isn't all bad for the brain
UC expert details how 'crystallized intelligence' can improve certain brain functions over time
While many brain functions tend to decline as we age, this is not necessarily true of all cognitive processes.
The University of Cincinnati's Rhonna Shatz, DO, adjunct associate professor, division director for behavioral neurology and Bob and Sandy Heimann Endowed Chair in research and education in Alzheimer's disease in the Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine and a UC Health physician, said certain information in the brain can become resistant to degradation over time because of its interconnectivity.
This process, known as "crystallized intelligence," can positively affect the brain's executive inhibition function, or the ability to control attention in order to focus on what's important.
“It is possible that executive inhibition improves with age because of high interconnectivity with regions frequently activated in executive function inhibition," Shatz told Well + Good. "Exposure to a wide variety of new and different topics, experiences, and activities has evidence for building cognitive reserve.”