So-called super agers are people in their 80s and 90s whose brains seem to defy aging, and instead of being plagued by Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss, they are vital and energetic, and now researchers hope they can offer clues about aging, CBS News reported Aug. 22.
Super agers are being sought for a study at Northwestern University's Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center in Chicago. The study on super agers is investigating the factors that help keep older adults functioning at a high level and free of cognitive decline as they age.
Super aging study leader Emily J. Rogalski, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at the Northwestern center, said that the research could eventually help people live healthier and enjoy a better quality of life as they age.
Research on super agers has already revealed some interesting findings.
Special MRI exams have found unusually low amounts of age-related plaques in the brains of these super agers. The brain’s cortex — the outer layer — which is responsible for many mental functionings, including memory, is thicker in super agers than it is in typical people in their 80s and 90s. In addition, super agers also have more brain mass, and they even seem to be more energetic and boast a more positive outlook.
Think you might be a super ager? If you’re over age 80, you can apply for the study on super agers. The study requires three visits to the center over three years and a battery of mental tests, imaging scans and other exams.
After the study is complete, the super agers would need to make one final contribution — donating their brain for research after they die.
Learn more about the super aging study.