Super agers are paving the way of new brain and aging studies this 2013, and the nicknamed “super agers” — which is a term that simply denotes elderly men and women who are in their 80s and their 90s — in fact have both brain ability and memory capacity much younger than may be expected. Yahoo! shared the details this Friday, Aug. 23, and it’s thought that these studies could reveal a lot on future understanding of the human memory process.
These “super agers” are being examined by researchers in the field, who are looking closely at these mentally apt 80 and 90-year-olds, hoping in the process to discover new ways of preventing memory loss and even increasing overall mental capacity as we age. And some of the findings these super agers have revealed in these studies are astounding.
According to a number of imaging tests on this select group of participants, a particularly low number of age-related plaques were found, as well as a higher amount of brain mass that is connected to both attention span and memory capacity in these sharp seniors.
"We're living long but we're not necessarily living well in our older years and so we hope that the SuperAging study can find factors that are modifiable and that we'll be able to use those to help people live long and live well," said the leader of the study, Emily Rogalski, a renowned neuroscientist at Northwestern University's cognitive neurology and Alzheimer's disease center in Chicago.
The criteria for these super agers is very strict, too. Although the ongoing study is still looking for elderly volunteers, less than 10% of all participants (including those within the 80s and 90s age group) will meet the high end criteria, which includes highly advanced memory and thinking skills.
"We've screened over 400 people at this point and only about 35 of them have been eligible for this study, so it really represents a rare portion of the population," added Rogalski.
Some of these rare super agers are an 80-year-old attorney, a retired neuroscientist at 96, a 92-year-old Holocaust survivor, and an 81-year-old who smokes a pack a day and has a nightly drink.
Mental tests are the biggest “test” to pass, while brain imaging scans and medical examinations are also investigated. The donation of the participants’ brains to science are also requested to be part of the super agers study program. A memory of a minimum of 15 words in a limited time frame is one such test.
"Super agers can remember at least nine of them 30 minutes later, which is really impressive because often older adults in their 80s can only remember just a couple," Rogalski concluded.
The results of this super agers study to help prevent memory loss as we continue to age is certainly important. Do you have any comments on these super agers? Please give your thoughts on the story below.