Youthful memory capacity in old brains: Anatomic and genetic clues from the Northwestern SuperAging Project

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Abstract

The Northwestern University SuperAging Project recruits community dwellers over the age of 80 who have unusually high performance on tests of episodic memory. In a previous report, a small cohort of SuperAgers was found to have higher cortical thickness on structural MRI than a group of agematched but cognitively average peers. SuperAgers also displayed a patch of ACC where cortical thickness was higher than in 50- to 60-year-old younger cognitively healthy adults. In additional analyses, some SuperAgers had unusually low densities of age-related Alzheimer pathology and unusually high numbers of von Economo neurons in the anterior cingulate gyrus. SuperAgers were also found to have a lower frequency of the ε4 allele of apolipoprotein E than the general population. These preliminary results show that above-average memory capacity can be encountered in advanced age. They also offer clues to potential biological factors that may promote resistance to age-related involutional changes in the structure and function of the brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-36
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of cognitive neuroscience
Volume25
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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