Eli5 – what changes in the brain as we age that affects learning?


For a simple example. I can still easily recall 1 to 10 in Spanish. This, I learned when I was 14. I use greek a lot as a second language now but I still hugely struggle with recall for 1 to 10 in Greek. In Spanish, which I haven’t used in over 2 decades I can hit it without pause to recall as fast as I can physically speak it.
What changes and can “tricks” be used to help recover the learning skills?

In: 1

The term you’re looking for is called “neuroplasticity” I.E. how willing your brain is to rewire neurons. That simply goes down with age wich helps retain old knowledge at the cost of making it harder to gain new knowledge.

This process happens at a different pace in different areas of your brain. Language learning is especially severe because our evolution basically assumes you are finished learning all relevant language as a child/teen.

The effect is regulated by chemical processes, so in theory we could return your brain to childlike learning skills if we knew how exactly to dose them and where. But we don’t really want to experiment with that as the sideeffects could be pretty nasty (hard to find volunteers for experiments that might cause permanent brain damage)