One thing we cannot escape is growing old and the ailments that come with that. Scientists cannot pinpoint exactly why we age and all-in-all it’s a complex process that varies in how it affects different people and different organs. Some of our systems begin to age around the age of 30 while others take much longer to show signs of aging and it is impossible to predict exactly how an individual will age although some generalizations can be made.
As aging is considered as undesirable people have searched for ways around it for centuries leading them to launch expeditions to find a fabled Fountain of Youth and in recent history, doctors have used different methods to reintroduce youth to older individuals. The medical discipline dedicated to the practical reversal of the aging process is rejuvenation. Despite the nearly mythical nature of the idea that true rejuvenation is possible great strides have been made towards making it a reality.
One organ that is of particular interest when it comes to rejuvenation is the brain. As we age our brains undergo structural, neural and chemical changes. These changes slowly start taking place from about the age of 30 or 40. The rate at which shrinkage takes place, for example, increases at the age of 60. Research projects into brain rejuvenation have yielded promising results, if not for human treatment then at least for further research that could eventually lead to full rejuvenation.
At the Stanford Neuroscience Institute, one such research project can be found. The group of researchers, experts in the fields of genetics, psychiatry, neurology, chemical, and systems biology, and chemistry, attempt to understand the fundamentals of brain aging and rejuvenation and how this relates to neurodegeneration. The aim is to slow or reverse aging to maintain brain function.
A specific area of current research interest in brain rejuvenation is the introduction of young blood to the aged brain. More research on this topic is needed but in simple terms, the idea is that it is possible to rejuvenate neuronal and cognitive elements in the aged brain by administering young blood plasma.
Processes such as heterochronic parabiosis (the connection of a young and old animal’s circulatory system) have also been tested and researched as it can enhance the functioning of adult stem cells in the aged brain. These methods have not yet been proven as a viable treatment or true brain rejuvenation options but at the very least they are starting to challenge the traditionally accepted idea that brain aging and deterioration are inevitable and cannot be stopped.
There are some companies that already provide brain rejuvenation treatments. They digitally map the brain to assess the areas most affected and then neurologists, neuropsychologists and electrophysiologists analyze the results to determine a treatment plan. These treatments are non-pharmacological but include things like Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, neurofeedback, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Patients have given testimonials of satisfying results with regard to issues like a debilitating concussion, depression, PTSD and severe anxiety.