The term “SuperAger” refers to older adults ages 60-80 whose memory and attention span is not just better than average for their age, but is closer to that of a healthy 25-year-old. Becoming a SuperAger creates an opportunity for people to remain mentally nimble well into their senior years.
The New York Times recently published Lisa Feldman Barrett’s How to Become A SuperAger. The article is based on research conducted by Barrett and her colleagues, which was supported by the National Institute on Aging Grant. The researchers found SuperAgers performed similarly to young adults on memory tests and they did not show typical patterns of brain atrophy in certain brain regions.
Two brain regions were identified that distinguish the brains of normal-agers from SuperAgers. The medcingulate cortex and the anterior insula were found to be thinner in regular-agers. These areas in SuperAgers’ brains were indistinguishable from the brains of young adults. The research demonstrates that these brain regions play a meaningful role in SuperAging.
However, it is not yet entirely clear how to become a SuperAger. Barrett says that strenuous work may be the secret. The brain regions noted above increase in activity when people perform difficult mental or physical tasks. Playing Sudoku on Sunday or attending a gentle yoga class on Saturday may not be enough for someone to become a SuperAger.
The research suggest you must do hard work – the kind that feels unpleasant in the moment. Activities such as pushing yourself to your physical limits while exercising or taxing your brain on a difficult math problem may be the strenuous type of work that can help you become a SuperAger.
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