Researchers are following a group of individuals for whom time seems to have no impact on memory. A small percentage of people retain above average memory power, as measured on tests, even as they age toward the century mark. Why some people’s minds age better than most, is a question that holds important clues to how science might protect our memories in the future. Researchers expect to have to sift through potentially hundreds of variables that may impact an individual’s health and cognition. Published research has already yielded some clues. Although they vary in physical condition and education status, it is apparent that those with a mental aging advantage experience less brain atrophy in the cerebral cortex. To find out why this may be, researchers plan to follow their super aging subjects closely collecting genetic and physical exam data that may yield answers to many yet unanswered questions.
- 1“SuperAger” has a very specific meaning: a person age 80 or older with memory performance equal to or even better than healthy people in their 50s and 60s.
- 2Researchers at Northwestern have begun to study SuperAgers in an attempt to determine what protects them from experiencing cognitive decline.
- 3SuperAgers don’t have cerebral atrophy, a loss of brain cells that causes brain tissue to shrink, or many tangles in the anterior cingulate cortex (a sign of Alzheimer’s).
CNADC investigators could end up with hundreds of variables to weigh against aging, but they’re taking the challenge one step at a time.
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