There is a well documented correlation between aging of the brain and decline in motor function control and performance. Maintaining healthy neuro function can prolong motor function, and maximize control of voluntary skeletal muscle actions and inhibit involuntary muscle movements. As evidence of this bradypedia, the slowing of movement (in particular walking or gait) with age, is indicative of decreasing vitality, and is a universal sign of old age and frailty. (16) While bradypedia involves the degeneration of many systems of the body, the brain plays an vital role in maintaining neuro-muscular coordination and cognitive alertness.
Healthy brain functioning involves maintaining health of the neurons, which become more susceptible to degeneration with age. A key factor in neurodegeneration is the increasing levels of inflammation in the brain which occurs with aging. Chronic inflammatory processes, as seen with normal aging, increasingly impair brain function, and leads to neurodegeneration.
Cognition and Working Memory
· Pterostilbene has been shown to be the most effective stilbene in reversing cognitive deficit is in aged lab animals. In the brain, pterostibene acts as a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and was shown to be the most effective stilbene in reducing oxidative stress. Furthermore, higher levels of pterostilbene in the hippocampus area of the brain correlated to an increased functional working memory. Also, ptersotilbene reversed declines of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is important for cognition, especially memory, attention and problem solving. (17)
Neuroinflammation Cognition and Motor Function
· As the brain ages, there is a transition from a balanced state, in which inflammation is kept at a minimum, to one which inflammation begins to predominate and become a chronic condition. (18)
· Increased levels of inflammatory mediators in the aged brain create conditions whereby the brain will produce an exaggerated inflammatory response to any further inflammatory stimuli such as stress or an infection. Already in an inflammatory state, the ever increasing spiral of inflammation (due to the exaggerated inflammatory response) further accelerates the degeneration of the neurons and brain functioning.
· Given the very typical proinflammatory conditions in aged brains, this can have very serious consequences on the cognitive functioning of older individuals when exposed to added levels of inflammatory stimuli. In addition to declines in cognition, this would also have debilitating effects on motor functioning.
· Resveratrol acts a powerful anti-inflammatory in the brain. In a study involving normal adult mice and aged mice, exposure to a typical infection resulted in a significantly higher exaggerated inflammatory response in the brains of aged rats. The heightened levels of inflammation in the aged mice resulted in observed deficits in memory and motor abilities versus the adult mice. However, when the aged mice were pretreated with resveratrol prior to infection, they experienced decreased levels of inflammation, and reduced levels of impairments in cognition and motor functions. The authors conclude “that resveratrol may be useful for attenuating acute cognitive disorders in elderly individuals with an infection”. (19)