Move Over, Superman. SuperAgers Take Center Stage

Earlier this month I appeared at a seminar on “SuperAging”—a study of people over 80 who still maintain memories unusually well, held in Montgomery Place Senior Residence at 5550 South Shore Dr.,Chiccago,

Main speaker was Dr. Emily Rogalski, research associate professor for the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s disease Center at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine. It’s one of 31 centers in the country studying Alzheimer’s disease, but the only center studying older adults who defy—for whatever reason—what is regarded the typical or normal memory loss for most adults their age.

The study also is trying to determine what is “common” versus what is “possible” at a certain age.

Dr. Rogalski reported that the study found one trait in common among the subjects and that was they all exhibited “curiosity,” which many seniors no longer do.

Another, more scientific commonality is that MRIs of those studied show all have an intact “anterior cingulated cortex”  in the center of the brain that affects the ability to control and manage uncomfortable emotions which is often the motivating force in negative behaviors such as substance abuse, binge eating, and suicide.

It also seems to increase the ability to focus and concentrate, which leads to strong memory retention. Research suggests that also may strengthen long- term memory and lead to a tendency to story-telling, all of which was shown in the study subjects.

I also spoke at the meeting, describing my experience as a subject in the SuperAger study. My talk is in the following post.