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MDLinxPeople Who Live to Be 90+ with Superior Thinking Skills Found to be Resilient to Alzheimer’s Pathology in their Brains

Unveiling the Secret to Superior Cognitive Health in the Oldest-Old

In a breakthrough research, an understanding of the resistance of certain 90+ individuals to neurodegenerative pathologies leading to superior cognitive abilities emerges, presenting avenues for preserving cognitive health in advanced ages.

Key Points:

  • Researchers found that the oldest-old (90+) with superior cognitive skills exhibit similar Alzheimer’s pathology levels as Alzheimer’s patients, but less pathology related to other neurodegenerative diseases.
  • The research, titled “Superior Global Cognition in Oldest-Old is Associated with Resistance to Neurodegenerative Pathologies: Results from the 90+ Study,” appeared in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • Study lead Roshni Biswas noted that while Alzheimer’s and vascular changes are common in these individuals’ brains, they are less prone to other neurodegenerative changes, such as Lewy body disease.
  • Over the past 30 years, the U.S. population aged 90 and older has nearly tripled, with a projected quadrupling in the next four decades.
  • The research aimed to understand the brain characteristics of people without cognitive impairment over 90, and their link to superior cognitive skills and reasoning.
  • Autopsy data from 102 cognitively normal individuals who died at an average age of 97.6 years, and cognitive test scores from people taken 2-12 months before death, were analyzed.
  • Future research will investigate how lifestyle habits and health conditions are associated with superior cognition in 90+ individuals, and the factors contributing to maintaining stable cognitive function over time.

“There are some individuals who can maintain high levels of cognitive function well into advanced ages. Further research into the factors that enable these individuals to maintain their cognitive function could provide insights into how to preserve cognitive health despite advanced age.”

María M. Corrada, ScD, co-principal investigator of the study
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