It’s pretty extraordinary for people in their 80s and 90s to keep the same sharp memory as someone several decades younger, and now scientists are peeking into the brains of these “superagers” to uncover their secret. The work is the flip side of the disappointing hunt for new drugs to fight or prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Parts of the brain shrink with age, one of the reasons why most people experience a gradual slowing of at least some types of memory late in life, even if they avoid diseases like Alzheimer’s. But it turns out that superagers’ brains aren’t shrinking nearly as fast as their peers’. And autopsies of the first superagers to die during the study show they harbour a lot more of a special kind of nerve cell in a deep brain region that’s important for attention. Jeff and Anthony remember to try and stay on topic.
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