Study seeks super agers' secrets to brain health

August 22, 2013 by Lindsey Tanner
In this Aug. 1, 2013 photo, 85-year-old Don Tenbrunsel, right, and Alex Wissman, soup kitchen volunteers, work at making lunches at St. Josaphat's Church in Chicago. Tenbrunsel is a "super ager," participating in a Northwestern University study of people in their 80s and 90s with astounding memories. So far the research has found scientific evidence that brains in this elite group resemble those of people decades younger. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

They're called "super agers"—men and women who are in their 80s and 90s, but with brains and memories that seem far younger.

Researchers at Northwestern University are looking at this rare group in the hope that they may find ways to help protect others from . And they've had some tantalizing findings: Imaging tests have found unusually low amounts of age-related plaques along with more brain mass related to attention and memory in these elite seniors.

The super agers aren't just different on the inside; they have more energy than most people their age and share a positive, inquisitive outlook. Researchers are looking into whether those traits contribute to .

The study is still seeking volunteers, but fewer than 10 percent of would-be participants are eligible.

Explore further: Elderly SuperAgers have brains that look and act decades younger than their age

Related Stories

Elderly SuperAgers have brains that look and act decades younger than their age

August 16, 2012
Researchers have long chronicled what goes wrong in the brains of older people with dementia. But Northwestern Medicine researcher Emily Rogalski wondered what goes right in the brains of the elderly who still have terrific ...

It's not your imagination: Memory gets muddled at menopause

May 23, 2013
Don't doubt it when a woman harried by hot flashes says she's having a hard time remembering things. A new study published online in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), helps confirm with ...

Does being a bookworm boost your brainpower in old age?

July 3, 2013
New research suggests that reading books, writing and participating in brain-stimulating activities at any age may preserve memory. The study is published in the July 3, 2013, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal ...

Weight loss improves memory and alters brain activity in overweight women

June 17, 2013
Memory improves in older, overweight women after they lose weight by dieting, and their brain activity actually changes in the regions of the brain that are important for memory tasks, a new study finds. The results were ...

Memory improves for older adults using computerized brain-fitness program

June 25, 2013
UCLA researchers have found that older adults who regularly used a brain-fitness program on a computer demonstrated significantly improved memory and language skills.

Plaque build-up in your brain may be more harmful than having Alzheimer's gene

October 15, 2012
A new study shows that having a high amount of beta amyloid or "plaques" in the brain associated with Alzheimer's disease may cause steeper memory decline in mentally healthy older people than does having the APOE ɛ4 allele, ...

Recommended for you

Cognitive cross-training enhances learning, study finds

July 25, 2017
Just as athletes cross-train to improve physical skills, those wanting to enhance cognitive skills can benefit from multiple ways of exercising the brain, according to a comprehensive new study from University of Illinois ...

Brain disease seen in most football players in large report

July 25, 2017
Research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school.

Zebrafish study reveals clues to healing spinal cord injuries

July 25, 2017
Fresh insights into how zebrafish repair their nerve connections could hold clues to new therapies for people with spinal cord injuries.

Lutein may counter cognitive aging, study finds

July 25, 2017
Spinach and kale are favorites of those looking to stay physically fit, but they also could keep consumers cognitively fit, according to a new study from University of Illinois researchers.

Brain stimulation may improve cognitive performance in people with schizophrenia

July 24, 2017
Brain stimulation could be used to treat cognitive deficits frequently associated with schizophrenia, according to a new study from King's College London.

New map may lead to drug development for complex brain disorders, researcher says

July 24, 2017
Just as parents are not the root of all their children's problems, a single gene mutation can't be blamed for complex brain disorders like autism, according to a Keck School of Medicine of USC neuroscientist.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Osiris1
not rated yet Aug 23, 2013
Be nice if a link to that study was in the article. As it is, I will be required to dig for the info on the biiiiiiiiig baaaaaaaaaaadddd nett. Not to difficult for one who has done it for a really long time. Am 67 so probably do not qualify yet, although having a body that looks thirty may give some pause.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.