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Neurobiol Aging. 2012 Oct;33(10):2357-72. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2011.11.015. Epub 2011 Dec 21.

A review of the structural alterations in the cerebral hemispheres of the aging rhesus monkey.

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Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118, USA.


Like humans, rhesus monkeys show cognitive decline and this review considers what structural age-related changes underlie this decline. Some structural measures do not alter significantly with age. These include brain weight, overall cortical thickness; numbers of cortical neurons; and numbers of astrocytes and microglial cells. Other structural measures change with age, but the change does not correlate with cognitive decline. These changes include nerve fiber loss from some fiber tracts, degeneration, and regeneration of myelin sheaths, and increase in the frequency of oligodendrocytes. Among the structural measures that increase in frequency with age and also correlate with cognitive decline are the increased frequency of degenerating myelin sheaths and a loss of nerve fibers from some fiber tracts; and the loss of synapses and dendritic spines from upper layers of prefrontal cortex. Consequently, the existing data suggest that cognitive decline correlates with changes in myelinated nerve fibers and with disconnections between and within cortical areas, as reflected by the age-related loss of synapses and of dendritic spines from some cortical areas.

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