We found a great article at the NY Times that explains just that.
Why do some more seasoned individuals remain mentally adept while others decline? “Superagers” (a term created by neurologist Marsel Mesulam) are those whose memory and attention isn’t merely above average for their age, but is actually on par with healthy, active 25-year-olds.
Mesulam’s study succeeded in identifying a set of brain regions that distinguished the two groups. Those regions were thinner in regular agers, a result of age-related atrophy, but in superagers they were identical to those of young adults, seemingly untouched by the passage of time.
What we all want to know is: How do you become a superager? Which activities, if any, will increase your chances of remaining mentally sharp into old age? While doctors are still studying this question, the best answer at this time is: working hard at something. There are regions in the brain that increase in activity when someone performs a difficult task, no matter if the effort is mental or physical. Therefore you can help keep these regions nice and healthy through robust exercise and sessions of challenging mental effort.
The downside to superaging is that the path you take will be rough. Stimulating these regions of the brain will likely leave you feeling tired and frustrated. Think back to the last time you really struggled to do something, it was exhausting while you were doing it, but afterwards I’ll bet you found the benefits were worth the struggle, right? Studies suggest that this extra work creates a more youthful brain that helps maintain a sharper memory and a greater ability to pay attention.
Consider making a New Year’s resolution to do something for your brain. Maybe learn a foreign language, take a class online, or learn to play the piano. There are tons of possibilities. Keep in mind if you don’t use it, you lose it!
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