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0898-929X
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1530-8898
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4.69

Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

January 2013, Vol. 25, No. 1, Pages 29-36
(doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_00300)
© 2012 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Youthful Memory Capacity in Old Brains: Anatomic and Genetic Clues from the Northwestern SuperAging Project
Article PDF (307.96 KB)
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 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 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 ɛ4 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.