New from NPR! 超級老人腦:讓腦袋持續靈光的秘訣底加啦. Super-agers with superb memory!

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* Denarian: Someone age 10 to 19.

* Vicenarian: Someone in his or her twenties.

* Tricenarian: Someone in his or her thirties.

* Quadragenarian: Someone in his or her forties.

* Quinquagenarian: Someone in his or her fifties.

* Sexagenarian: Someone in his or her sixties.

* Septuagenarian: Someone in his or her seventies.

* Octogenarian: Someone in his or her eighties.

* Nonagenarian: Someone in his or her nineties.

* Centenarian: Someone 100 or more.

* Supercentenarian: Someone 110 years old or more.

Inside The Brains Of People Over 80 With Exceptional Memory
It is definitely Monday on MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

And I'm David Greene.

In Your Health today, two stories on the aging brain老化的腦. There's been a lot of scientific research focusing on memory loss記憶力喪失 in the elderly due to dementia失智症 or Alzheimer's disease阿茲海默症. But in a provocative令人感到振奮的 new study, researchers have flipped this around顛倒過來(與事實認定相反的意思). They're looking at a group of seniors who've retained strong memories保有良好的記憶力, similar to people two or three decades younger.

失智症有許多不同的原因造成,最常出現的是退化性失智症,而其中阿茲海默氏症Alzheimer's Disease),約佔失智症的60~70%,在北歐及北美地區,更高達70~80%的比例,所以,阿茲海默氏症又常常被稱為老年失智症或是老年癡呆症。

Now, as Michelle Trudeau reports, the scientists are trying to understand why.

MICHELLE TRUDEAU, BYLINE: The Schachners just celebrated their 43rd wedding anniversary last week.

LOU ANN SCHACHNER: I'm Lou Ann Schachner. I'm 84.

TRUDEAU: And Jay Schachner?


SCHACHNER: I'm the older woman here.

TRUDEAU: The Schachners are just two volunteers in an ongoing study持續性研究 at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, directed by Emily Rogalski.
EMILY ROGALSKI: I'm a neuroscientist by training受過專業訓練的神經科學家.
TRUDEAU: Rogalski studies memory in the elderly. There's great variability 變動/變數she says in memory as we age. And she wanted to know why some elderly have strong memories, while others - most others - do not. So she set out to find elderly individuals with exceptional memories for their age. To test their memories, she raised the bar提高門檻(標準) pretty high.

ROGALSKI: We said we want individuals who are over age 80 to perform on memory tests like 50- to 60-year-olds, or better.

TRUDEAU: Of the volunteers over age 80, only about 10 percent had exceptional memories.

ROGALSKI: So it kind of tells you that this is a little bit rare.

TRUDEAU: The group, average age 83, Rogalski calls super-agers超高齡者, like Lou Ann and Jay Schachner. Their memories are as strong as people 20 or 30 years younger than they. Jay was a patent attorney專利律師; retired but got bored. so took up學習 tax law稅法. And at 81, he goes to work every day.

SCHACHNER: It gives me a chance to meet people and it's challenging. You talk about mental stimulation腦部的刺激, keeping up with跟上 all the changes in the tax laws is a challenge in itself本身就極具挑戰性. But it's fun. If it weren't fun, I wouldn't do it.
TRUDEAU: Researcher Rogalski wanted to find out if there is something unique about the brains of Jay and LuAnn and the other super-agers

ROGALSKI: And so we asked a very simple question.

TRUDEAU: Do the brains of super-agers look like the brains of younger individuals? First, Rogalski used MRI 電腦磁振造影檢查to explore the cortex大腦皮質(一片組織構成大腦的最外層), that part of our brains central for主掌 thinking and memory. Its thickness varies from person to person.

ROGALSKI: And if we measure the thickness of the cortex, it gives us a proxy measure of the health of the brain.

Proxy measure 是研究人員在進行研究時,透過現有可計算數量或是資源,去預測可能結果的一種替代測量方式。

TRUDEAU: In Alzheimer's, for example, the cortex gets thinner.

ROGALSKI: We also know, through the course of normal aging, the cortex shrinks縮小.

TRUDEAU: But the cortex of these super-agers had not thinned, but rather showed something very different.

ROGALSKI: And what we found was - quite remarkable值得注意的(非凡的), in that we found that the brains of individuals who are super-agers look more like those of 50- to 60-year-olds.
TRUDEAU: A thicker cortex in these 80-year-olds is associated with a youthful memory. Well at first, Rogalski didn't believe it.

ROGALSKI: And then we found something even more surprising, which was even harder to believe, was that in an area called the anterior cingulate前扣帶腦皮質/前扣帶皮層 of the brain...

TRUDEAU: An area important for attention and thus for memory.

ROGALSKI: was actually thicker in super-agers than it was in 50-year-olds.

TRUDEAU: A youthful cortex and a thicker cingulate may be related to why these super-agers are spared被放過(以至於沒有發生事情) memory decline.

Genes too may play a role, Rogalski says, noting that the super-agers also have an important gene profile - they have fewer risk genes for Alzheimer's than typical 80-year-olds.

CLAUDIA KAWAS: I think that's very titillating挑逗性的、引起人興趣的.
TRUDEAU: Neurologist Claudia Kawas directs a study on 90-plus-year-olds at the University of California, Irvine. She cautions this new research on super-agers is small, with only of 12 individuals. But...

KAWAS: It suggests that they have found a biological correlate 生物學上的關聯of the incredibly good cognition 良好的認知能力that these individuals have.

For NPR News, I'm Michelle Trudeau.




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