Tissues and organs change over time, regulated by intrinsic (genetic) determinants and environmental (and microenvironmental) adaptation. Brain changes during lifetime are especially critical, as the brain is the effector of cognition and the vast majority of neurons live throughout the life of the individual. In addition, brain aging mechanisms are especially critical for disease vulnerability, given the agingrelated prevalence of pathologies that include neurodegenerative diseases. In this context, the present contribution concisely highlights data yielded by recent trends of research on the normal aging brain, and specifically: the occurrence of synaptic changes (rather than neuronal loss) and the altered regulation of adult neurogenesis (which represents a novel exciting field of knowledge); the development of a lowgrade chronic inflammatory state which primes glial cells and may lead to changes in intercellular crosstalk, thus playing a potential role in the brain susceptibility to neurodegeneration; changes occurring in statedependent behavior, sleep and wake, which are products of global brain functioning and underlie consciousness and cognitive performance; changes in the biological clock, the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus, which regulates sleepwake alternation and other endogenous rhythms. Altogether, the present synopsis of recent studies at the molecular, cellular, and functional levels emphasizes the idea that the normal aging brain should be viewed as an example of adaptation and plasticity rather than as an obligatory decline.
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