What are the earlier life contributions to reserve and resilience?

Kristine B. Walhovd, Gareth R. Howell, Stuart J. Ritchie, Roger T. Staff, Carl W. Cotman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The brain's structures and functions arise from a combination of developmental processes and interaction with environmental experiences, beginning in utero and continuing throughout the lifespan. Broadly, the process that we think of as “successful aging” likely has its foundation in early life and is continuously shaped as life experiences are programmed into the brain in response to a changing environment. Thus, individual lifestyle choices and interventions aimed at increasing cognitive reserve and resilience could change the course of cognitive aging. To determine the relative efficacy of these approaches, we will need to understand how the timing of these interventions (e.g., age, duration, frequency) influences cognitive capacity through the lifespan. Although analysis of age-related changes in cognitive function reveals a general decline at the population level, it has become clear that there is great individual variance in the extent to which cognitive function changes with advanced age. The factors responsible for the individual differences in cognitive decline are unclear, but uncovering them with new analytical tools, epigenetic approaches, and subpopulation studies will provide a roadmap toward enhancing reserve and resilience in the population at large and preserving cognitive function in a greater number of aging individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-139
Number of pages5
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Early online date30 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • Early-life
  • Lifespan
  • Maintenance
  • Neurovascular
  • Reserve
  • Resilience


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