eISSN: 2084-9885
ISSN: 1896-6764
Neuropsychiatria i Neuropsychologia/Neuropsychiatry and Neuropsychology
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vol. 6

Review article
Protective factors of cognitive function in ageing – review paper

Joanna Pniewska
Krystyna Jaracz
Krystyna Górna
Aleksandra Suwalska

Neuropsychiatria i Neuropsychologia 2011; 6, 3–4: 166–171
Online publish date: 2012/02/14
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Central Statistical Office demographic data show that the Polish population of elderly people has been increasing. This phenomenon entails a number of social and economic consequences. Therefore there has been great emphasis on maintaining mental health and physical independence among the elderly as long as possible. The aim of this work was to present a review of protective factors of cognitive function in the process of ageing. In this paper the definition of ageing and the theories which can explain biochemical mechanisms of the ageing process are presented. Special attention is paid to the evolutionary, stochastic and non-stochastic theories as well as to the demographic criterion of ageing societies in the context of the present demographic situation of the elderly population. Physiological changes in cognitive function in ageing are presented, e.g. ageing of perception, attention, memory, learning, thinking and intelligence. Since the rate and degree of impairment of cognitive function may depend on modifiable factors, a review of research concerning protective factors of cognitive decline, such as physical activity, mental activity and diet, is presented. It is emphasized that among these factors physical activity seems to be the one that has received the strongest scientific support. The impact of somatic and psychical diseases on cognitive decline is not a subject of this review.

cognitive function, ageing, protective factors

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