2 - Neurobiologic, Genetic, and Psychosocial Features Associated with SuperAging
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM ET
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Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscientist and Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine Chicago, Illinois
Memory complaints are widespread among the elderly and aging is a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), leading to the impression that gradual loss of memory ability is a nearly universal consequence of getting old. Our longitudinal studies of SuperAgers, 80+ year-olds with episodic memory performance that remains in a range that is at least normal for 50-60 year-olds, suggest that an alternative aging trajectory is possible. This session will highlight some of the emerging neurobiologic, genetic, and psychosocial features shared among this group of elite seniors, including maintenance of cortical integrity (especially in the anterior cingulate), an abundance of anterior cingulate von Economo neurons, and sparse cortical Alzheimer pathology compared to their cognitively average peers. Understanding the factors associated with superior memory performance in old age may inform approaches for avoiding disease and disability and maximizing quality of life in aging. These studies contribute to our understanding of mechanisms of resilience and resistance in cognitive aging and may help isolate factors that are potentially important for promoting successful cognitive aging and avoiding age-related brain diseases such as AD.
Distinguish among different trajectories of cognitive aging: SuperAging, average aging, and pathologic aging.
Describe at least two unique structural brain features associated with cognitive SuperAging.
Explain how SuperAgers show resistance or resilience to common features associated with average aging.