New study sheds light on the exceptional memory of Superagers

A recent study suggests that super agers are relatively more active than their regular ageing counterparts. Source: Getty Images.

In a world where cognitive decline is often associated with ageing, a remarkable group stands out: the Superagers.

These individuals defy the conventional wisdom that memory and cognitive function inevitably diminish with time, showcasing remarkable mental sharpness well into their golden years.

In recent years there have been many studies conducted where researchers have tried to better understand the phenomenon of the superager.

One such study, published recently in the Journal of Neuroscience  , gives a glimpse into the brain of these extraordinary octogenarians providing evidence that age-related cognitive decline might not be inevitable.

119 octogenarians from Spain, 64 super-agers and 55 older adults with normal age appropriate memory abilities, took part in the study over a five-year period. These participants completed multiple tests which assessed their memory, motor and verbal skills. They also underwent brain scans and blood tests; and were quizzed on their lifestyle and behaviours.

The scientists examined the overall health of their subjects’ white brain matter, which is important for communication between different parts of the brain. They didn’t find any significant differences between superagers and typical older adults in terms of total white matter volume or the presence of lesions in the white matter.

However, looking more closely at the microstructure of the white matter, they found some interesting differences.

Superagers had better white matter microstructure compared to typical older adults. This means that the pathways in their brains responsible for transmitting information were in better condition.

Notably, both superagers and the control group exhibited minimal indications of Alzheimer’s disease in their brain scans.

About the study, Dr. Bryan Strange, professor of clinical neuroscience at the Polytechnic University of Madrid, who led the study said, “By having two groups that have low levels of Alzheimer’s markers, but striking cognitive differences and striking differences in their brain, then we’re really speaking to a resistance to age-related decline.”

Dr. Strange described superagers as “really quite energetic people” and “motivated, on the ball, elderly individuals”.

In terms of lifestyle choices, there were no major differences between the two camps when it comes to their diets, sleep and exercise routines, professional backgrounds and smoking habits.

The differences that were detected however were better physical and mental health, better mobility, and being more active during middle age.

Ageist stereotypes often overshadow the reality that getting older is a privilege and there are many ways to gracefully embrace the process while boosting longevity at the same time.

Elements like good nutrition, exercise, staying mentally active and fostering meaningful social connections are all excellent ways to infuse meaning and purpose into your life all the while simply getting older.


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