Possible reasons why “super-agers” are different from their peers may be getting closer to discovery with some new research, according to The New York Times in "How to Become a 'Superager'."
There are people who even into their 80s and 90s, can think just as quickly as much younger people. Researchers refer to these people as "superagers."
The group is defined as elderly people who have the same cognitive abilities as 25 year olds. However, this is a relatively small group.
Most elderly people will suffer from some form of cognitive impairment and, of course, many suffer from outright dementia.
Medical researchers have been searching for possible reasons why the superagers are so different from most of their peers.
In a small study, researchers conducted MRIs of some superagers and peers of the same age. The images revealed that superagers brains are thicker in some regions, which suggests more and stronger brain activity.
Interestingly, the differences are not in regions of the brain that are associated with cognitive functions. Instead, the differences are in brain regions associated with emotional functioning.
This study suggests that the key to becoming a superager is to continue to work hard. The emotional regions of the brain are activated and strengthened, when people strain themselves mentally or physically.
Reference: New York Times (Dec. 13, 2016) "How to Become a 'Superager'."