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What can SuperAgers teach us about growing old?

What can SuperAgers teach us about growing old?

When scientists at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine first identified 'SuperAgers' back in 2007, the scientific community expressed excitement about the secrets their exceptional brains could unlock. A new study from the team at Northwestern University and published in the Journal of Neuroscience has quantified the differences between SuperAgers' brains and those of normal people.

The exciting findings could help in developing strategies to protect memory in older people and combat degenerative conditions such as dementia.

What are SuperAgers?

SuperAgers are a small group of people older than 80 who maintain razor sharp memory skills, sometimes possessing a memory to rival those 20 to 30 years their junior.

The new study from Northwestern University has shed some light on why these elderly people have such remarkable memory skills. SuperAgers' brains were shown to have far fewer 'tangles' (which are associated with Alzheimer's disease), a thicker anterior cingulate and a much bigger supply of the von Economo neuron, which is thought to play an important role in social intelligence.

The study used MRI imaging to map the brains of 31 SuperAgers and compared them to the brains of 21 people of similar age, as well as 18 volunteers aged between 50 and 60.

Tamar Gefen, co-author of the study explained why the results are significant. "Identifying the factors that contribute to the SuperAgers' unusual memory capacity may allow us to offer strategies to help the growing population of 'normal' elderly maintain their cognitive function and guide future therapies to treat certain dementias," he said.

What do the results tell us about our memories as we grow old?

While the SuperAger phenomenon is still relatively unknown and more studies are needed, these results are a significant first step in deciphering the genetic and molecular sources of the incredible memories displayed by SuperAgers. Once these secrets are unlocked, scientists can begin to develop ways of combating memory loss, as well as Alzheimer's and dementia.

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What can SuperAgers teach us about growing old?

The brains of SuperAgers are remarkably different to the average brain. What are SuperAgers and what can they tell us about memory loss and growing old?

When scientists at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine first identified 'SuperAgers' back in 2007, the scientific community expressed excitement about the secrets their exceptional brains could unlock. A new study from the team at Northwestern University and published in the Journal of Neuroscience has quantified the differences between SuperAgers' brains and those of normal people.

The exciting findings could help in developing strategies to protect memory in older people and combat degenerative conditions such as dementia.

What are SuperAgers?

SuperAgers are a small group of people older than 80 who maintain razor sharp memory skills, sometimes possessing a memory to rival those 20 to 30 years their junior.

The new study from Northwestern University has shed some light on why these elderly people have such remarkable memory skills. SuperAgers' brains were shown to have far fewer 'tangles' (which are associated with Alzheimer's disease), a thicker anterior cingulate and a much bigger supply of the von Economo neuron, which is thought to play an important role in social intelligence.

The study used MRI imaging to map the brains of 31 SuperAgers and compared them to the brains of 21 people of similar age, as well as 18 volunteers aged between 50 and 60.

Tamar Gefen, co-author of the study explained why the results are significant. "Identifying the factors that contribute to the SuperAgers' unusual memory capacity may allow us to offer strategies to help the growing population of 'normal' elderly maintain their cognitive function and guide future therapies to treat certain dementias," he said.

What do the results tell us about our memories as we grow old?

While the SuperAger phenomenon is still relatively unknown and more studies are needed, these results are a significant first step in deciphering the genetic and molecular sources of the incredible memories displayed by SuperAgers. Once these secrets are unlocked, scientists can begin to develop ways of combating memory loss, as well as Alzheimer's and dementia.

What can SuperAgers teach us about growing old?
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