SuperAgers have distinctly different looking brains than those of normal older people, and the same memory capacity as a younger person. Understanding their unique brains could lead to new treatments for dementia, researchers say.

Published Jan. 28 in the Journal of Neuroscience, a new study is the first to quantify brain differences of SuperAgers and normal older people.

Cognitive SuperAgers’ unusual brain signature has three common components when compared with normal persons of similar ages: a thicker region of the cortex; significantly fewer tangles (a primary marker of Alzheimer’s disease) and a whopping supply of a specific neuron –von Economo — linked to higher social intelligence.

‘The brains of the SuperAgers are either wired differently or have structural differences when compared to normal individuals of the same age,’ said Changiz Geula, study senior author and a research professor at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center. ‘It may be one factor, such as expression of a specific gene, or a combination of factors that offers protection.’

Source: Northwestern university


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February 9, 2015