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Health Brief

October 6, 2020

Hello, Are you a Cognitive “Super Ager”? There is a tendency to equate aging with mental decline. However, Cognitive Super Agers defy the odds. Super Agers are the lucky few in their 80’s or 90’s who perform better on memory tests when compared to others in their age bracket or even those 20-30 years younger.

Anatomically the brain naturally “shrinks” in size with advancing age, especially the areas of the brain linked to memory (hippocampus) and higher level thinking (frontal cortex). That is why, as we age, it takes a bit longer to remember things or we say things that maybe we would not/should not normally say. However, the brains of Super Agers seem to defy this natural wear and tear.

Researchers at Northwestern and Massachusetts General Hospital have identified that brains of Cognitive Super Agers have a higher density of cells called “von Economo neurons” (which are linked to social intelligence and awareness), a greater brain volume, a larger hippocampus and a distinctive thickness in two neural networks. Another interesting fact- you have heard about the plaques and tangles that characterize Alzheimer’s disease. (…. How if they are present you should have Alzheimer’s disease and if you don’t, you won’t.) Well, research at UC Irvine is proving that incorrect. In fact, they are seeing plaques and tangles in the brains of Cognitive Super Agers! Many researchers are now grappling with why this so. There are two theories that continue to hold true, those of “Cognitive Reserve” and “Brain Maintenance”. If you are interested learning how to keep your brain healthy, or want to build your “Cognitive Reserve”, I invite you to explore the series Boost Your Brain and Memory. It will be offered again this winter. The sign-up sheet is in the hot pink Wellness Binder located outside the O’Donnell room.

Clearly research on the brain has long way to go. If you would like to participate in medical research stop by the Revitalize Wellness Center during “open office hours” and I can help you learn more.

Bad Joke time:

  • How do you get a squirrel to like you?
  • What do you call someone with no body and no nose?
  • How many tickles does it take to make an octopus laugh?
  • What kind of shoes do ninjas wear?

So, what have you done….. “Just for today”? Lee

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