Super-Agers Prove Ancient Wisdom On Brain Youth:
Aging is only a state of mind [or brain] is something wise men have been saying for thousands of years.
And we all hear about the increasing number of examples to the contrary about Alzheimer’s & Dementia a bit too much of late.
But buried in the mountains of discouraging anecdotes on what seems like inevitable mental decline are some gems.
And in this video, Seeker talks about the rare brain-athletes called, “Super-Agers” who may one day save us all from that fate…
Super-Agers Fight Dementia With Mysterious Superpowers:
Every once in a while, you’ll either meet someone who is or who knows an older person who’s only as old as they feel.
An 80 year-old who thinks like a 30 year-old.
And this might not be just mood, or neurotransmitters, or temperament.
It might really be someone who actually has those qualities in their physical structure, with a significantly stronger, bigger, more-resilient brain.
-Which is exactly what researchers found when they tested these remarkable individuals.
Super-Agers Fight Age-Related Brain Decline 2x Better:
You see, any normal mental aging process that doesn’t involve Alzheimer’s or Dementia still involves shrinking of the human brain.
-Especially in the outermost layer of the neocortex.
But when examined with MRI-scans, it turns out this group of special people estimated at less than 5% of the population, had noticeably less shrinkage;
It happened at less than 1/2 the rate of normal people.
And on top of that, their memories were just as good as people who were 2-3 decades younger, in their 60s or even 50s.
In some studies, their memories were as good as those of 25 year-olds!
How Are Their Brain-Regions Different?:
And this is looking like it comes down to differences in just a few brain regions.
Super-Agers had a noticeably thicker region in their brains called the Anterior Cingulate Cortex.
And it’s so pumped-up, it’s not just thicker than that region in people of the same age.
It’s thicker than that region even in 50 or 60 year-olds, too.
Along with that, the Super-Agers were also thicker in the head than the younger people in 2 more regions,
Both of which are related to the Salience Network and the Default Mode Network.
And they also had 3-5x more of a specific type of brain-cell called a Spindle,
-Which is correlated with social intelligence and high-speed function in large brains.
How Do They Actually Get To Be So Super?:
This is the million-dollar-question. Because if we can figure that out, maybe the rest of us can find a way to imitate the Super-Agers in every way possible.
Current factors under consideration that were not specifically studied include:
Inital Size, Genetics, Exercise, Personality, Psychology, Stress-Response, Nutrition, and possibly even Profession.
Any one of these factors, or several in-combination could keep a brain stronger with time.
As we’ve noted before, Excessive Stress is Neurotoxic, and many things like Antidepressants and even Cardiovascular Exercise can effectively rebuild your brain.
Well, What Can A Normal Person Do To Stop Brain-Shrinkage?:
Unfortunately, Science has just not completely-decoded Super-Agers.
The list of recommendations is growing slowly, but is still at-best contained in Sandrine Thuret’s TED talk on how to grow new brain cells from the previous link.
-Except for one more thing that is just barely hinted-at in that video.
Time Under Tension. No Pain, No Gain, No Brain?:
So there’s this theory about bodybuilding that it’s not really the number of reps you do, but instead the amount of Time your muscles spend in that working-state.
One of the newest theories researchers field about what you can do to become a Super-Ager is something very similar.
Yes, they talk about Cardiovascular Exercise too, just like Sandrine.
But their other idea is even more interesting.
Hell Week For Your Head:
And that idea is this: You have to work your mind like the Navy Seals.
Strangely enough, those guys have a rule that says most people give up at about only 40% of their capacity because they don’t want to push through discomfort.
This is exactly what the researchers suggest.
You have to not just goof off on an easy Crossword or Sudoku.
You have to work your mind hard-enough, for a sustained enough period that you actually kinda feel like crap, mentally.
Seeker’s Dr. Sapna Parikh likes to refer to this as “The Yuck Point”.
By that point, you will have depleted most of the glucose-reserves in your brain to the point of feeling a work-fatigue coming over you like a fog.
It’s not like being sleepy, it’s more like being sore the next day after weightlifting.
The End Is The Beginning:
And that brings us back to another amazing benefit we hinted at in the beginning.
Super-Agers don’t just have improved features that show up on MRIs.
But their better memories hint at something even more amazing.
One study showed their brains had 90% fewer signs of Alzheimer’s than normal people of the same age, in both the Tau protein tangles and Beta-Amyloid plaques.
If you think that’s amazing, then just strap-in and brace yourself against something solid.
Another study showed the impossible:
Many Super-Ager brains they looked at there did show major signs of Alzheimer’s Disease.
But I guess nobody told them…
…-Because they had no symptoms at-all.
Where To From Here?:
So although there is a ~95% chance you will not be in the elite of all people who have brains,
And be able to essentially bench-press a supernova like them,
-To somehow have Alzheimers, but still not really have it at-all,
The rest of us mortals can still take all of Dr. Sandrine’s suggestions to keep our brains making new cells,
And also that strangely-Buddhist advice from the newest work.
Getting out of your comfort zone, like “The Beginner’s Mind” idea,
And work your Brain almost to the point of exhaustion.
A bit like you also do to your body when you can.
So go fight Dementia and Brain-shrinkage from aging with the Super-Agers and the rest of the amazing details in the Links:
Video by Seeker
Photo “Thinking”, by Alexander Steinhof
• Source: YT-Seeker
• More Coverage: GuardianUK
• Source Study: JAMA-Rates of Cortical Atrophy in Adults 80 Years and Older With Superior vs Average Episodic Memory