Editor’s Note: Sign up for CNN’s Fitness, But Better newsletter series. Our 7-part guide will help you easily get started on a healthy, expert-supported routine.
Carol Siegler, 85, volunteers, works out at the gym several days a week, hangs out with friends and family frequently, reads all kinds of books, and does crossword puzzles every day. restless despite being
“I’m bored. I feel like my Corvette is being used as a grocery cart,” said Ziegler, who lives in the Palatine suburb of Chicago.
Ziegler is a cognitive “superager” with a brain as sharp as a human 20 to 30 years younger. She is part of an elite group registered with Northwestern Super Aging Research Program, For 14 years, I have studied older people with good memory. This program is part of his Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
“I auditioned for Jeopardy! twice. I did so well that I was invited to a live audition.
“Nobody knows how well I did,” she added with a laugh. “What I have said to my children and others who have asked me: ‘I may know Beethoven and Liszt very well, but I know very little about Beyoncé and Lizzo’.”
To become a Super Ager, a term coined by researchers at Northwestern University, you must be over 80 and undergo extensive cognitive testing. Acceptance into the study will occur only if the person’s memory is equal to or better than that of a cognitively normal person in her 50s and her 60s.
“Superagers must have excellent episodic memory, which is the ability to recall everyday events and past personal experiences, whereas superagers have at least average performance on other cognitive tests. need to be,” said cognitive neuroscientist Professor Emily Rogalski. She majored in behavioral science at the Feinberg School of Medicine.
Only about 10% of those who apply to the program meet these criteria, according to Rogalski, who developed the SuperAger project.
“It’s important to point out when comparing super-agers to average agers: they have similar levels of IQ, so the differences we see are only due to intelligence.” It’s nothing,” she said.
Once approved, a colorful 3D scan of the brain is taken, and cognitive tests and brain scans are repeated about every year. Analysis of data over many years yielded interesting results.
Most people’s brains shrink as they age. However, in Super Ager, the study It shows the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for thinking, decision-making, and memory. remains much thicker Compared to the 50’s and 60’s, the shrinkage is gradual.
Superager brains are typically donated to research programs by participants postmortem, but the entorhinal cortex has larger, healthier cells. “He’s one of the first areas of the brain to be ‘hit’ in Alzheimer’s disease,” Tamar Gefen, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University, said in an email.
The entorhinal cortex is directly connected to another important memory center, the hippocampus, and is “essential for memory and learning,” he said. study in november The brains of deceased super-agers are compared to brains of older and younger adults with normal cognitive function and those diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.
The study also found that superagers’ brains had one-third less tau tangles, or abnormal formations of proteins within neurons, than brains of cognitively healthy controls. . Tau tangles are a hallmark sign of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
“We think this suggests that the larger the neurons in the entorhinal cortex, the more ‘structurally sound’ they are, possibly able to withstand the formation of neurofibrillary tau tangles.” said Gefen.
Gefen also notes that the brains of SuperAgers have so far included humans, great apes, elephants, whales, dolphins, songbirdCorkscrew-like von economo neurons are thought to enable rapid communication throughout the brain. hypothesis That is, neurons give humans and great apes an intuitive advantage in social situations.
Von economo neurons are found in the anterior cingulate cortex and form the collar in the front of the brain, linking the cognitive and reasoning aspects with the emotional and affective aspects. The anterior cingulate gyrus is thought to be important for regulating emotions and paying attention.
Taken together, these findings appear to point to a genetic link to becoming a super-ager, Geffen said. It’s clearly not possible. ”
Superagers share similar characteristics, says Rogalski, who is also associate director of Feinberg’s Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer Disease. These people remain physically active. they tend to be positiveThey challenge their brains every day by reading or learning something new. Many continue to work well into his eighties. Superagers are also social butterflies surrounded by family and friends, often volunteering in their communities.
“When we compare super-agers to normal agers, we find that they tend to favor more positive relationships with others,” said Rogalski.
“This social connection may be a trait that distinguishes super-agers from what we call average or normal aging, although they are still in good spirits,” she said.
Looking back on her life, Carol Siegler recognizes many traits of SuperAger. At a young age during the Great Depression, she taught herself how to spell and play the piano. She learned to read Hebrew on her grandfather’s lap and perused his weekly Yiddish newspaper.
“I have great memories. I always had them,” Siegler said. Only know it from.
She graduated from high school at age 16 and immediately went to college. Siegler got her pilot’s license at the age of 23 and then started her family business in the basement of her home, where she had 100 employees. When she was 82, she said she participated “as a gag” in America of her age. She won her crossword puzzle tournament.
After seeing an ad for the SuperAger program on TV, Siegler thought it was too funny. It was thrilling for her to be selected as a SuperAger, Siegler says, but she recognizes that she was born lucky.
“Someone with the same abilities or talents as a super-ager who lived in a place where there were few ways to express them, may never know they have them,” she said. “And it’s a real shame.”