Imaging the aged brain: pertinence and methods
The global population is ageing at an accelerating speed. The ability to perform working memory tasks together with rapid processing becomes increasingly difficult with increases in age. With increasing national average life spans and a rise in the prevalence of age-related disease, it is pertinent to discuss the unique perspectives that can be gained from imaging the aged brain. Differences in structure, function, blood flow, and neurovascular coupling are present in both healthy aged brains and in diseased brains and have not yet been explored to their full depth in contemporary imaging studies. Imaging methods ranging from optical imaging to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to newer technologies such as photoacoustic tomography each offer unique advantages and challenges in imaging the aged brain. This paper will summarize first the importance and challenges of imaging the aged brain and then offer analysis of potential imaging modalities and their representative applications. The potential breakthroughs in brain imaging are also envisioned.