TECH

'Super-Agers' May Provide The Secret To Stopping Memory Loss In Old Age

Can we get them to find our car keys?

14/09/2016 12:20

Despite being nowhere near old enough to qualify for a bus pass, we are already starting to lose our memories.

But that is just an inevitable part of getting older, right? Well not for everyone.

Holloway via Getty Images

A new study by Massachusetts General Hospital has revealed ‘super agers’ -a group of people who evade the seemingly inevitable fate of memory deterioration.

This remarkable phenomenon is leaving scientists perplexed as these elderly brains, which normally experience shrinkage over time, look like (and have key areas) which resemble much younger brains.

Author Alexandra Touroutoglou said: “We looked at a set of brain areas known as the default mode network, which has been associated with the ability to learn and remember new information, and found that those areas, particularly the hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex, were thicker in super agers than in other older adults [who had experienced the anticipated shrinkage].

“In some cases, there was no difference in thickness between super agers and young adults.” 

The research, which was published in the Journal of Neuroscience, is the first step towards understanding how some lucky adults are able to retain youthful thinking and unusually resilient memories.

Touroutoglou said: “We desperately need to understand how some older adults are able to function very well into their seventh, eight, and ninth decades. This could provide important clues about how to prevent the decline in memory and thinking that accompanies aging in most of us.”

The trials were able to show that the size of these key areas of the brain were integral to retaining memory, and it is indeed the physical shrinkage that reduces memory recall for elderly people.

This new information will be integral in making important advances in preventing and treating age-related memory loss and various forms of dementia.

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