Exceptional Cognitive Aging: Neuropsychologic, Anatomic and Pathologic Correlates

Project: Research project

Project Details


Memory complaints are widespread among the elderly, leading to the belief that a gradual loss of intellectual ability is an inevitable part of "normal" aging. However, data from our cohort of “SuperAgers” who are above age 80, suggest that it is possible to have memory test scores at or above the average range for healthy individuals at least 20 to 30 years their junior. Our data demonstrate that SuperAgers, the focus of the current project, have larger cortical volumes (especially in the cingulate cortex), less prevalence of ApoE4, more von Economo neurons, and fewer markers of Alzheimer neuropathology than their cognitively average age peers. The current project has been productive, with 10 SuperAging publications to date, multiple abstracts, and others in preparation. Since inception, we have recruited 81 SuperAgers and 43 Controls, exceeding our original goal. Slightly more than 10% of the individuals enrolled in Cycle 1 of this project were Caucasian/non-Hispanic. We use uniform evaluation psychosocial, neurologic, lifestyle neuropsychological, and imaging measurements to study these individuals who reliably continue to return for biennial evaluations. Participants are co-enrolled into the Northwestern AD Center (NU ADC), which provides the infrastructure for blood collection and autopsy. 97% of the currently active cohort have agreed to or are considering brain donation. Bridge funding is requested for up to one year to maintain our rare and dedicated longitudinal cohort of SuperAgers and cognitively average elderly controls. Bridge funding is requested to maintain effort of key staff, which is necessary to preserve the relationships with currently enrolled participants; continue collection of longitudinal data; process brains that come to autopsy; and complete projects and publications using data from the currently funded project. During this time we will work to obtain funding for our competitive renewal application. In the event we are not able to obtain additional funding, bridge funding will be used for the orderly close out of this award.
Effective start/end date9/15/198/31/21


  • National Institute on Aging (2R56AG045571-06)


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