January 23, 2020

Researchers aim to understand how some old brains work better despite damage


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By Cathy Burke From Newsmax

An MRI brain scan (BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Some older adults manage to keep their younger thinking and memory abilities despite evidence of damage to the brain — and researchers want to know how they do it, Forbes reported.

Though researchers at the National Institute on Aging have created a way they hope will help them figure out the puzzle of  “cognitive reserve” — the ability of the mind to resist damage of the brain — they still need the input of scientists, healthcare professionals and others, Forbes reported.

That will come from new data — and a first-of-its-kind workshop in September, Forbes reported.

The push to study cognitive reserve came out of recommendations from a 2017 Bethesda, Md., meeting of 300 researchers, Forbes reported.

Coordinated by the NIA of the National Institutes of Health and supported by the McKnight Brain Research Foundation, the summit centered on age-related brain and cognitive changes, with a particular focus on issues related to cognitive resilience and reserve.

One of the ways they decided to pursue studying how to preserve and bolster the brain during aging was to support a life-long study of rats — Successful Trajectories of Aging: Reserve and Resilience in RatS, or STARRS. 

According to Peter Rapp,  senior investigator in the Neurocognitive Aging Section of the NIA, scientists hope STARRS will bring them “closer to an understanding of the factors that contribute to successful versus unsuccessful neurocognitive aging.”

On Wednesday, the NIA put out a call for new ideas on how best to maximize STARRS’s value and usefulness to the scientific community. Responses are due by July 15.

The idea of a cognitive reserve isn’t new, Forbes noted.

Michael Ridding of the School of Medicine at the University of Adelaide in South Australia has written that “being educated, having higher levels of social interaction or working in cognitively demanding occupations (managerial or professional roles, for instance) increases resilience to cognitive decline and dementia.”

© 2019 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

For more on this story go to: https://www.newsmax.com/health/health-news/aging-brains-research-cognitive-reserve/2019/06/19/id/921154/?ns_mail_uid=6952f1f9-507d-4a20-8cc0-0a1db158d76e&ns_mail_job=DM46355_08192019&s=acs&dkt_nbr=010502mxb4p8

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