Youthful Memory Capacity in Old Brains: Anatomic and Genetic Clues from the Northwestern SuperAging Project

Emily J. Rogalski, Tamar Gefen, Junzi Shi, Mehrnoosh Samimi, Eileen Bigio, Sandra Weintraub, Changiz Geula, M.-Marsel Mesulam
2013 Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience  
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 age-matched 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
more » ... uperAgers 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.
doi:10.1162/jocn_a_00300 pmid:23198888 pmcid:PMC3541673 fatcat:lkqgngja4fadzdcrxy6yhaxtlq