Despite Their Old Age, "Super-Agers" Have Young Memories
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As your age begins to climb, your memory starts to decline. At least, this is the typical scenario. But a group of people known as "super-agers" may be proof that old age doesn't always come hand-in-hand with a bad memory. Super-agers are elderly people who have brains and memories that resemble that of people who are decades younger. How is this possible? Researchers at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital performed a study to get to the bottom of the super-agers' superpower. What they found is that super-ager brains have certain key areas with youthful characteristics. The outermost layer of brain cells known as the cortex, for example, among other brain regions, usually shrinks with age, but that was not the case in the brains of super-agers. The size of these regions is correlated with learning and memory. As for how these super-agers are able to retain strong memories and prevent certain areas of the brain from shrinking? That's another question, but this research takes us that much closer to treating age-related memory loss and perhaps even forms of dementia. Learn more about super-agers in the videos below.
Identical Twins Live Longer Than The General Population
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Identical twins are born not only with a sibling and a mirror image, but also a best friend. And new research has found that the built-in social bond that comes from being a twin might actually increase an individual's lifespan. According to a 2016 study published in the journal Plos One, twins—both identical and fraternal—outlive the general population, but identical twins outlive fraternal sets. The study looked at siblings in the Danish Twin Registry, which tracked twins born in Denmark from 1870 to 1900, and found that in cases of both male and female twins, they had a longer life expectancy than their singleton counterparts. The reason for this, or so the researchers think, is that twins protect each other. "There is benefit to having someone who is socially close to you who is looking out for you," lead author and University of Washington professor David Sharrow said in a press release. "They may provide material or emotional support that lead to better longevity outcomes." But if the benefit is purely born of support, why are identical twins better off than fraternal ones? "There is some evidence that identical twins are actually closer than fraternal twins," Sharrow said. "If they're even more similar, they may be better able to predict the needs of their twin and care for them." The good news for non-twins? Sharrow says that even singletons can learn from this study and get some protection if they invest in strong social relationships. "Most people may not have a twin, but as a society we may choose to invest in social bonds as a way to promote health and longevity."
These Are The Ages You Peak At Everything
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As we grow older, it can be easy to fall into the trap of feeling like your best days are behind you. And for certain skills, that is indeed the case. But as each birthday rolls around, there's reason to be excited, too, because you're getting one year closer to your peak happiness, or math skills, or body satisfaction. People hit different "peaks" throughout their lives, starting around second grade when foreign language skills are most likely to take off. It's a lot easier for kids to pick up new languages than it is for adults, so an individual's ability to learn a new language peaks at age seven, according to a report published by a report published by Tech Insider. Your ability to learn—and remember—new names, however, peaks later, at age 22. And it'll be another decade before you're at your peak when it comes to remembering faces. According to the averages of several studies, people remember faces best at age 32. For the most part, these peak ages are the same regardless of gender. But the age at which you'll earn your highest salary has a fairly large gender discrepancy—women will reach their peak salary at age 39, while men do so at age 48. Yet both genders reach peak arithmetic skills at age 50. The following year, at 51, is when people are best at understanding the emotions of others. Peak vocabulary occurs at age 69, peak happiness with your body at 74, and last on the timeline is peak psychological wellbeing, which is reportedly reached at age 82. Learn when you reach more peaks in the video below.
Scientists Are Only Just Beginning To Discover What Causes Gray Hair
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Gray hair is the tell-tale sign of aging. But it wasn't until March of 2016 that scientists discovered a gene that plays a role in the hair graying process. As Dr. Kaustubh Adhikari, the lead author of the study that outlines this discovery, explained: "We already know several genes involved in balding and hair color but this is the first time a gene for graying has been identified in humans, as well as other genes influencing hair shape and density." Thanks to this study, we now have strong evidence to suggest that genetics—specifically a gene called IRF4—play a role in graying hair, not just environmental factors like stress or smoking. The logical next step? Developing products to delay the graying process. Watch the video below for more details on this gray hair gene study.
Key Facts to Know
What drives the process of aging from a cellular perspective is still largely a mystery. 0:27
After age 30, your chances of dying double every eight years. 1:37
Caloric restriction has been observed to extend the lifespan of rodents by up 50%. 2:55
Pomegranates May Be The Antidote For Aging
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Researchers from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have discovered a molecule in pomegranates that could help muscle cells protect themselves against one of the main causes of aging. The only catch: the pomegranate molecule must be converted into the anti-aging ingredient by specific microbes that inhabit the intestines—but only the intestines of some people. Here's how it works: normal cells regularly swap out old "batteries," known as mitochondria, for new ones through a process called mitophagy. As you age, that process breaks down and faulty mitochondria begin to build up in your cells. This is what causes weakness in aging muscles along with other age-related diseases such as Parkinson's. The scientists discovered that a molecule called urolithin A is able to reboot the renewal process of mitophagy and thereby slow down cells' aging process. In a study of nematode C. elegans, a popular research subject because of the worm's 10-day lifespan, exposure to urolithin A resulted in them living more than 45% longer. In studies with two-year-old mice, the aging rodents had 42% better running endurance when exposed to urolithin A. Human studies are currently being held to test a urolithin A supplement, which would bypass the need for specific gut bacteria.