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“Super Agers” Brain Health Study

I came across an article in the Houston Chronicle the other day and I thought it was very interesting and worth sharing. Researchers are conducting a study to find out why “super agers” have such young and healthy brains. Super agers are men and women in their 80s and 90s who have the brains and recall of someone much younger. This group of researchers from Northwestern University’s cognitive neurology and Alzheimer’s disease center in Chicago hopes that by studying this group of people they can come up with ways to help prevent memory loss in others. The study is currently seeking volunteers, but the problem is that less than 10 percent of potential participants meet the criteria to be apart of the study. To qualify, would-be participants have to undergo a battery of mental tests. Once enrolled, they undergo periodic imaging scans and other medical tests. They also must be willing to donate their brains after death. The memory tests include lists of about 15 words. “Super agers can remember at least nine of them 30 minutes later, which is really impressive because often older adults in their 80s can only remember just a couple,” lead researcher, Rogalski, said.

Special MRI scans have yielded other remarkable clues, Rogalski said. They show that in super agers, the brain’s cortex, or outer layer, responsible for many mental functions including memory, is thicker than in typical 80- and 90-year-olds. And deep within the brain, a small region called the anterior cingulate, important for attention, is bigger than even in many 50- and 60-year-olds. The super agers aren’t just different on the inside; they have more energy than most people their age and share a positive, inquisitive outlook. Rogalski said the researchers are looking into whether those traits contribute to brain health.

Other research has linked a positive attitude with overall health. And some studies have suggested that people who are “cognitively active and socially engaged” have a reduced chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease, but which comes first — a healthy brain or a great attitude — isn’t known, said Heather Snyder, director of medical and scientific operations for the Alzheimer’s Association.

I hope this study leads to profound findings in how to prevent Alzheimer’s and other dementia related disorders. Hopefully it even leads to a cure for the Alzheimer’s disease. To find out more information on the “super agers” study and to read the full article, please click HERE.

 

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