Superagers’ youthful brains offer clues to keeping sharp

WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s pretty extraordinary for people in their 80s and 90s to keep the same sharp memory as someone several decades younger, and now scientists are peeking into the brains of these “superagers” to uncover their secret.

The work is the flip side of the disappointing hunt for new drugs to fight or prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Instead, “why don’t we figure out what it is we might need to do to maximize our memory?” said neuroscientist Emily Rogalski, who leads the SuperAging study at Northwestern University in Chicago.Parts of the brain shrink with age, one of the reasons why most people experience a gradual slowing of at least some types of memory late in life, even if they avoid diseases like Alzheimer’s.But it turns out that superagers’ brains aren’t shrinking nearly as fast as their peers’. And autopsies of the first superagers to die during the study show they harbor a lot more of a special kind of nerve cell in a deep brain region that’s important for attention, Rogalski told a recent meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

These elite elders are “more than just an oddity or a rarity,” said neuroscientist Molly Wagster of the National Institute on Aging, which helps fund the research. “There’s the potential for learning an enormous amount and applying it to the rest of us, and even to those who may be on a trajectory for some type of neurodegenerative disease.”…

FINISH READING: Superagers’ youthful brains offer clues to keeping sharp






 

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