SAN DIEGO ― Super agers, the group of elderly people whose memory performance seems to defy aging, just produced another surprise for scientists: They can have numerous amyloid plaques in their brains, which is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, yet their memory is unaffected. It’s as if they are somehow protected from the toxic effects of the plaques.
“It appears that some elderly individuals are immune to the effects of Alzheimer’s pathology,” said neurologist Changiz Geula, of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, who presented the findings Tuesday at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego.
Alzheimer’s disease is currently diagnosed based on a person’s symptoms, such as memory impairment. A definitive diagnosis can be made only after death, by looking at post-mortem brain tissue for signs of the plaques.