A Means to an End: The Biological Basis of Aging and Death

By William R. Clark | Go to book overview

10
The Aging Brain

One of the greatest fears associated with aging is the possibility that senescence may rob us of our mental faculties, leaving us to wander the empty spaces of our minds with none of the familiar landmarks that tell us where we are or where we have been. Each human personality is shaped by a unique combination of intellectual and emotional capacities, developed over a lifetime of learning and feeling, and exercised with a particular brand of reason and judgment that leads to a highly individualized response to the surrounding world. We each have our own way of seeing that world, of thinking about it and responding to it—of being in it—drawing upon a totally idiosyncratic collection of memories and experience. It is this personal collection that we label “self” and use to guide ourselves through our daily lives.

We connect our sense of who we are with our minds, but the mind is ultimately a product of the brain, largely of the outer regions of the brain known as the cerebral cortex. It is there, throughout most of our lifetime, that we spin the complex tapestry that makes each of us who

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