14 March 2017

The brain of "superstars" remains young in old age

Ilya Vedmedenko, Naked Science

Researchers have revealed one of the secrets of the so–called "superstars" - people whose intellectual abilities in old age differ little from similar indicators of twenty-year-olds. It turned out that their brains remain young for almost their entire lives.

The original term "superstars" was coined by American neurologist Marcel Mesulam. The scientist attributed elderly people to this category, whose memory and attentiveness were in no way inferior to 20-year-old boys and girls. A new study has once again confirmed that "superstars" really exist. In addition, scientists were able to get a general idea of the functioning of the brain of these people. The results are presented in The Journal of Neuroscience (Sun et al., Youthful Brains in Older Adults: Preserved Neuroanatomy in the Default Mode and Salience Networks Contributes to Youthful Memory in Superaging).

Alexandra Touroutoglou and her colleagues conducted a study involving 40 elderly people aged 60-80 years and a group of 41 people aged 18-35 years. Neurological and mental illnesses were not recorded in any of the volunteers. All these people were given tasks aimed at memorizing words.

It is worth noting that for a 25-year-old neurologist patient, memorizing about 14 words in similar tests is a good result. For a 75-year–old person, memorizing nine words is a very good indicator. However, as part of the experiment, Turutuglu and her colleagues found out that 17 participants from the older group coped as well as the youth (and in some cases even better).

Scientists have tried to answer questions about the causes of this phenomenon. The study of the brain of "superstars" using MRI showed that this organ in these people not only works like a young one, but also visually looks exactly the same. To be more precise, the "eternal" youth was preserved by two areas: one is responsible for storing and restoring information, and the other is responsible for directing attention and identifying important details. The thicker these regions were, the better the memory of the elderly. Another feature of the "superstars" was that in such people, by the age of 60 and 70, the volume of the hippocampus, which, as is known, is responsible for the transition of short-term memory into long-term memory, practically did not decrease.

Researchers cannot yet say with certainty about the reasons for all this, and many aspects related to the work of the human brain have yet to be understood. 

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru  14.03.2017

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