What is the difference between the brain of "super-greybeards" from the brain of ordinary elderly people?

American researchers have found that not only areas of the brain responsible for memory functions of "super-greybeards", people whose cognitive functions are almost not affected with age, are better preserved, but also the neural connections between these areas. The results are published in the journal Cerebral Cortex journal. The discovery will help find biomarkers and ways to slow brain aging.

A team of specialists from the Massachusetts General hospital and Harvard medical school have long been working on the study of such categories of people as "super-greybeards". Their memory works phenomenally at the level of 20-30-year-olds. Scientists have investigated the reasons for their lower susceptibility to age-related brain degradation.

Previous studies have shown that the cerebral cortex  of "super-greybeards", in comparison with ordinary elderly people is thicker in the areas included in the network of default mode (DMN) and the salience network (SN). This structure explained the higher memory performance.

In a recent study, scientists examined the connections between these networks. It was attended by 41 people aged 18-35 years and 40 people aged 60-80 years, among whom were representatives of the "super-greybeards". All volunteers underwent functional MRI and visual-verbal stimulus memorization test.

The results showed that the DMN and SN networks of the presented category of people were arranged better and more connected than those whose working memory is less functional. Such connections are usually inherent in young and middle-aged people, but "super-gteybeards" sometimes even surpassed them in efficiency.

In addition, there was a stronger link between the right hippocampus and the posterior cingulate cortex, which also correlated with better memory.

Next, experts intend to determine the impact of genetics on the found features of the brain, as well as find ways to form the same connections in ordinary people to prolong their active youth and increase life expectancy.

Sept. 18, 2019, 11:15 a.m.

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