Have you ever heard of Super Agers? They are people over the age of 80 who have the ability to retain an incredibly sharp memory, much more so that in relation to their peers. Researchers are now focusing their studies on the brains of these Super Agers to figure out just how and why their brains are able to retain more memories than others’.
Super Agers are able to display memories with the same clarity as people up to thirty years younger than them. But why?
Super Agers have super thick cortexes
There is a particular region of the brain’s cortex that is shown to be thicker in the brains of Super Agers than it is in middle agers and with the help of fMRI technology, we are able to capture and even more detailed visual as to the how and why.
As well as a different brain structure
It appears that Super Agers also have a comparably different brain structure to their peers. It has been discovered that they have a much larger supply of the neuron labeled von Economo, which through numerous studies has been correlated with higher rates of social intelligence.
Thicker cortex = more neurons = more cognitive abilities
The region where Super Agers show a prominent thickness in grey matter is called the anterior cingulate cortex, which is the region responsible for regulating our levels of perseverance and conflict resolution. This region also contains 87 percent fewer tangles than subjects of the same age. These tangles are actually abnormal clusters of beta-amyloid proteins, which stick together and build up in the spaces between nerve cells. These tangles essentially serve to block signals from transferring between nerve cells, and are a defining characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Super Agers have also been found to possess up to five times the number of von Economo neurons than the average person their age, which could account for their increased speed of information transmission when engaged in social interactions. This information lends itself to the theory as to why Super Agers have a much deeper memory capacity.
Interestingly enough, highly intelligent animals such as dolphins, elephants, whales, and certain apes also possess these same von Economo neurons.
It is important for researchers to continue their studies of Super Agers in order to further our understanding of the potentials for memory capacity, so that we may better develop treatments and therapies for those who lose their memory cache prematurely.