Abbi Hernandez, Ph.D., a postdoctoral neuroscience researcher, Sara Burke, Ph.D., an assistant professor of neuroscience, and collaborators identified a new way in which the brain becomes vulnerable in old age.
By labeling neurons that are connected (green/blue) and those that are active (red/blue), they found that the perirhinal cortical neurons that are connected to the prefrontal cortex are more activated than those that are not connected. These neurons are also likely to undergo age-related changes. The perirhinal cortex is critical for memory and vulnerable in Alzheimer’s disease and the prefrontal cortex is necessary for executive functions, like reasoning and problem-solving. Communication between these two areas is important for preventing cognitive decline with age. These vulnerable connected neurons could belong to neural hubs that are important for communication across the brain.