Young Brains of Super-Agers
From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle Report.
As we age, our ability to think and remember starts to deteriorate.
But not everyone.
Some of us have brains that age more slowly.
Enter the super-ager!
Super-agers are people over the age of 80 who have the brain structures and abilities of much younger people.
Eighty-seven-year-old Bill Gurolnick is a super-ager.
"What do I feel like? If I was to give a number, I probably feel like I'm about my early 70s..."
Scientists know that parts of the brain decrease in size with age. But in super-agers that process is much slower.
Emily Rogalski is a neuroscientist at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago, Illinois. In a recent study, she showed that super-agers have young brains. The area of the brain responsible for attention and memory -- the cortex -- was shown to be thicker in super-agers.
"When we look at the cortex of their brain, we see that, on average, that it looks more like a 50-year-old brain than it looks like an average 80-year-old brain..."
Not only do super-agers have thicker cortexes, they have more von Economo neurons. These large brain cells appear to be involved with social-emotional communication. But their exact purpose is still a mystery.
Scientists writing for Smithsonian magazine also call them spindle neurons, and say they are "brain cells for socializing."
Several factors affect how our brains age
Scientists say super-agers have several things in common, including an active lifestyle. Many travel and play sports. They are often big readers. And they usually have healthy relationships and spend time with friends.
Super-agers also seem to have certain common personality traits. Rogalski says they are, for the most part, known for their optimism, resilience and perseverance.
Growing old, she adds, does not have to be depressing and sad.
"Perhaps, if we expected a bit better from ourselves, then we would understand that not all aging is 'doom and gloom..."
As lead investigator of the study, Rogalski jokingly said that super-agers do not grow on trees -- meaning they are special and few.
She says she wants to find out the reasons Gurolnick's mind is working so well and not aging as quickly as most.
Gurolnick's own father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in his 50s. Solving this mystery, Rogalski says, may help those who suffer from brain diseases such as Alzheimer's.
"We think if we can understand the factors contributing to super-aging, it may offer new hypotheses and new ways to explore the challenges in Alzheimer's disease."
Can we all be super-agers?
The science behind super-aging is a relatively new, but growing field. Scientists involved in the research offer this advice as we age: Stay active. Learn new things. Challenge yourself. Surround yourself with healthy relationships.
And that's the Health & Lifestyle report.
I'm Anna Matteo.
1.brain structure 大脑构造
Researchers say these behaviors are due to basic differences in brain structure and activity.
2.feel like 感觉
I don't feel like a walk just now.
3.be involved with 涉及
I committed the physician's cardinal sin: I got involved with my patients.
4.have...in common 有...相同之处
He had very little in common with his sister.
5.Rogalski says they are, for the most part, known for their optimism, resilience and perseverance.
for the most part 很大程度上；多半
The students are, for the most part, from the villages.
Professors, for the most part, are firmly committed to teaching, not research.
6."When we look at the cortex of their brain, we see that, on average, that it looks more like a 50-year-old brain than it looks like an average 80-year-old brain..."
on average 平均；通常
American shares rose, on average, by 38%.
On average each report requires 1,000 hours to prepare.
科学家们了解，大脑的某些区域会随着年龄增长而萎缩 。而对于超级老人，这一过程相对较慢 。
艾米丽·罗加尔斯基（Emily Rogalski）是美国伊利诺斯州芝加哥市西北大学范伯格医学院的神经科学家 。她在最近一项研究中指出，超级老人拥有更为年轻的大脑 。超级老人的大脑皮层（大脑中负责注意力和记忆的区域）更厚 。
超级老人不仅拥有更厚的大脑皮层，还拥有更多的von Economo神经元 。这些巨大的脑细胞似乎与社会情感交流有关 。但它们的确切功能仍然是个谜 。
科学家表示，超级老人有很多共同之处，比如积极的生活方式 。爱好旅行和运动 。他们经常进行大量的阅读 。他们通常也拥有良好的人际关系，喜欢和朋友相处 。
超级老人们似乎在性格方面也颇为相似 。罗加尔斯基说，他们大多乐观、坚韧、有毅力 。
古洛尼克的父亲在50多岁时被诊断出患有阿尔茨海默氏症 。罗加尔斯基说，解开这个谜团或将帮助那些患有阿尔茨海默氏症等脑部疾病的患者 。
超级老人背后的科学属于相对较新、但不断上升的领域 。参与这项研究的科学家们提出了以下建议，随着年龄增长，我们要保持活跃 。学习新事物 。挑战自己 。让自己拥有健康的人际关系 。