Neuron numbers and sizes in aging brain: Comparisons of human, monkey, and rodent data

Dorothy G. Flood, Paul D. Coleman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

234 Scopus citations


One of the several sources of interest in aging animal brains is their potential as models of the aging human brain. In this review we examine whether neuron numbers and sizes change similarly in aging human, monkey and rodent brain regions which data are available from more than one species. The number of brain regions studied in more than one species is surprisingly limited. Some regions show correspondence in age-related changes between humans and selected animal models (primary visual cortex, CAI of hippocampus). For the majority of regions the data are conflicting, even within one species (e.g., somatosensory cortex, frontal cortex, cerebellum, cholinergic forebrain areas, locus coeruleus). Although some of the conflicting data may be attributed to procedural differences, particularly when data are expressed as density changes, much must be attributed to real species and/or strain differences in rodents. We conclude that neuron numbers and sizes may show similar age-related changes in human and animal brains only for sharply defined brain regions, animal species and/or strains, and age ranges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)453-463
Number of pages11
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Issue numberC
StatePublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes


  • Central nervous system
  • Gerontology
  • Human
  • Neuron numbers
  • Neuron sizes
  • Primate
  • Review
  • Rodent

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Aging
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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