Building a Better Aging Brain: Exploring Scaffolding Theory and Cognitive Health

Aging is often considered a dreadful phenomenon. One of the threats that come with aging is the decreasing cognitive ability of the brain over the years.

A theory was recently discovered that can possibly build a better functioning brain, even while you age. Based on the scaffolding theory, you can actually strengthen your brain through a process called, what else, but scaffolding.

According to this principle, you can use alternative switches when one or some do not function as well. In that way, you will regain the cognitive abilities that you once had when you were younger.

The Aging Brain

You may have experienced one way or the other that your usual memory and brain ability diminish over time, especially if you have not seen that person for a while. You may also find yourself going to a place and wondering why you went there in the first place.

It is no wonder that aging brains quite normally forget, miss out on something, and just do not function the way they used to.

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Although older people usually experience these things, some have the ability to overcome the difficulty by switching on different neural circuits. However, most older people simply do not function as well as they used to do. The youth proves to be more capable of doing that but skill and enough determination can also make it possible for even the aging brain to do so.

Through the years, a debate has been going on between advocates of plasticity against those of neural fallout. The former firmly stands that some neurons in the brain never stop developing, maintaining the overall balance of brain resources in the process. Boy, they were right!

Who Has Better Brain Function: Young or Old

Youth and experience are often put together in terms of brain function. Although decreasing cognitive ability is ‘normal’ with age, experience proves to be a helpful alley.

For one, aging spares the vital function of the brain known as procedural memory. It is the function that helps you remember how to perform daily activities and usual routines like taking a bath, preparing the morning coffee, and even doing something as trivial as hammering a nail.

That is also true even in intense cognitive challenges presented by playing chess, reading, or typing. Experience can provide a significant advantage against youth in terms of mastery of skills and familiarity with common solutions to problems.

You will find that some areas of the brain, especially those that are involved in complex language and word-processing skills, continue to develop and reach maturity over time.

In some professions requiring quick reactions, experience also speaks best on how efficiently you will be able to respond to a specific challenge.

Keeping your Brain Healthy

But what if it just does not work for you? What if the alternating circuit process does not work well with your brain resources? Well, there are ways and means you can keep your mental health in perfect shape.

First, indulge in physical activity. If you think aerobic exercises are only useful to prevent premature cardiovascular disease from developing, think again! Sweating through exercise routines does not only keep your body in perfect shape but also your brain. The areas of the brain that are involved in attention and working memory are being worked up as you go through the routine.

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Second, keep a close watch on what you eat. Your diet can significantly increase your chances of maintaining a healthy brain as much as the scaffolding theory can. Make sure to take lots of Omega-3 and flavonoid-rich foods because they are surely brain foods that will feed your mind as much as it does your stomach. Lots of fish like salmon, fruits, vegetables, red wine, and dark chocolates can influence your cognition, making your brain competent to keep up with the challenges of aging.

Third, get involved in mental activity. The amount of activity that your brain gets into in early adulthood will matter a lot when you are getting old. It has been proven in many studies that keeping your mind active is a great defense against a debilitating disease such as Alzheimer’s.

Finally, maintain a good attitude towards the many mental changes that you may face. That is one secret to a healthy mind all throughout your life. Being able to accept that you are going to experience decreasing brain function as you age will open your eyes to whatever you can do to repair the problem. If you remain oblivious to the fact, you will never find a way to secure that your condition will actually improve.


Brain Plasticity: How learning changes your brain By Dr. Pascale Michelon (



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