The first thing that distinguishes ‘SuperAgers’ from people with ‘poor memory abilities’

The first thing that distinguishes ‘SuperAgers’ from people with ‘poor memory abilities’

There is a group of people who Longevity researchers call “SuperAgers,” who are 80 and older, but have the cognitive function of decades younger.

Conversely, it is possible for your brain to be older than your chronological age, which is something we want to avoid.

Like neuroscience researcher and the author “The Aging-Resistant Brain,” I found it was our behaviornot only our genes, which have a strong influence on the fate of our brains.

So what separates SuperAgers from people with poor memory abilities? According to study from 2021 who followed SuperAgers for 18 months, one key difference was that they continued to learn new things throughout their lives.

SuperAgers learn something new every day

Think of the brain as a bank account. We create “deposits”—or new connections between our brain cells—by learning. Our memories are placed in these relationships.

As we age, we naturally lose some of those connections. It’s like a retreat every year. But the more deposits we make in our lifetime, the less impact withdrawals have on our net worth.

One study found that adults with more years of education had more active frontal lobes when taking memory tests. Activity in the frontal lobe is associated with better memory.

But higher education is not the only way to maintain memory. In another studyeven if individuals had a lower level of education, if they attended lectures, read, wrote and read often, they had memory results at the level of those with more education.

What types of learning are best for brain health?

Keeping your brain healthy isn’t all about Sudoku, Wordle or crossword puzzles. They may have cognitive advantages, but you’re mostly practicing with the knowledge and skills you already have.

What makes significant new connections in the brain is learning new skills and information. And the process should be challenging: SuperAgers embrace—and sometimes crave—that sense of frustration when they learn something outside their expertise.

‘Cross-train’ your brain

Approach learning the way you would approach fitness training. You wouldn’t go to the gym and only work out your forearms. He would end up looking like Popeye.

The same goes for the brain. Learning a new language, for example, works different parts of the brain than a new sport or instrument.

You can cross-train your brain by mixing mental and physical learning activities. Get out your calendar and plan different types of activities using this plan:

No matter what it is, learning new things keeps your brain young. So, if reading this article you discovered something that you didn’t know before, you are already helping your brain to age more slowly.

Marc MilsteinPh.D., brain health expert and book author “The Aging-Resistant Brain: New Strategies to Improve Memory, Protect Immunity, and Fight Dementia.” He also earned a PhD in biological chemistry and a BA in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology from UCLA, and has conducted research in genetics, cancer biology, and neuroscience. Follow him further Twitter and Instagram.

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