Posted Aug 29, 2013 11:30 am CDT
An octogenarian attorney is among a group of “super agers” being studied by Northwestern University researchers who want to learn how to protect others from memory loss.
The study has screened 400 volunteers, but only about 35 passed the mental tests to qualify, the Associated Press reports. Besides the lawyer, test subjects include a 96-year-old retired neuroscientist and a 92-year-old Holocaust survivor.
One of the tests includes a list of about 15 words, according to researcher Emily Rogalski, a neuroscientist at Northwestern. “Super agers can remember at least nine of them 30 minutes later, which is really impressive because often older adults in their 80s can only remember just a couple,” Rogalski said.
Test subjects get imaging scans and other medical tests, and agree to donate their brains after death. The scans of super ager brains show key areas for attention and memory are larger. Super agers also have more energy and an inquisitive, positive outlook.
The study is investigating whether outlook and other traits help protect people from memory decline.