Probing the connections between growing and aging may reveal how time affects the brain.
Everybody focuses on a different aspect of the aging brain, leaving no one with a sense of the whole process, says epigeneticist Art Petronis of the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.
Petronis and others are intrigued by the idea that the brain’s early life holds clues to its end. As neural connections come and go with age, brain cells themselves change in a way that harkens to the brain’s early days.
In the case of brain cells, these epigenetic marks, many of which are laid down early in life in response to the environment, are one of the things that make nerve cells distinct from one another.
Finding those signals and other molecules in the body that could stall some of the brain’s aging processes might lead to better treatments for Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia or even the mental decline that comes with healthy aging.
A lack of clarity on brain aging hasn’t stopped scientists from floating ideas for delaying the mental trouble that comes with age.