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Are You a Superager?

Do you ever worry that your memory is getting worse as you get older? It may not have to, especially if you turn out to be a superager. According to this article at AP News, superagers have good memories well into old age:

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 Chicago’s Northwestern University.

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...

What does it take to be a superager? A youthful brain in the body of someone 80 or older. Rogalski’s team has given a battery of tests to more than 1,000 people who thought they’d qualify, and only about 5 percent pass. The key memory challenge: Listen to 15 unrelated words, and a half-hour later recall at least nine. That’s the norm for 50-year-olds, but the average 80-year-old recalls five. Some superagers remember them all.

Can you remember a list of nine words or more after 30 minutes? Or more?