This open access review paper looks over some of the better known ways to modestly slow aging and extend healthy life in laboratory animals and their relationship with the progressive degeneration of memory with advancing age:
The aging process has been associated with numerous pathologies at the cellular, tissue, and organ level. Decline or loss of brain functions, including learning and memory, is one of the most devastating and feared aspects of aging. During the past century, age-related memory impairments have emerged as one of the top public health threats. Both psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders comprising schizophrenia, depression, Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD), and Huntington's disease (HD) are associated with age-related memory impairment. In humans, cognitive decline starts in mid-life and deepens with advancing age suggesting that the greatest risk factor is age itself. Thus, ultimately, prevention of these pathologies necessitates thorough understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying their links with the aging process.
Learning and memory are fundamental processes by which animals adjust to environmental changes, evaluate various sensory signals based on context and experience, and make decisions to generate adaptive behaviors. Age-related memory impairment is an important phenotype of brain aging. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying age-related memory impairment is crucial for the development of therapeutic strategies that may eventually lead to the development of drugs to combat memory loss.
Studies in invertebrate animal models have taught us much about the physiology of aging and its effects on learning and memory. In this review, we survey the molecular mechanisms and genes associated with longevity that have also been implicated in cognitive aging. We further focus on recent work in invertebrate model organisms linking learning and memory impairment with age.