How 100 Year Olds Keep Their Minds Sharp? A Cognitive Psychology Podcast Episode.


cognitive psychology podcast episode, neuroscience, neuropsychology

With 15% of people over the age of 70 experiencing some form of dementia with this increasing to 35% in over 90s, we need to understand how people get dementia and others don’t. Some people over 100 years old don’t experience dementia or any sort of cognitive decline and they’re just as sharp as young people. That’s the focus of this cognitive psychology episode!


This episode has been sponsored by Cognitive Psychology: A Guide To Neuroscience, Neuropsychology and Cognitive Psychology Third Edition. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it.


How Do 100 Year Olds Keep Their Minds Sharp?

After experiencing a personal loss to dementia in earlier 2021 where someone in my family passed away from dementia, I know the damaging effects it can have on a person and a family. It steals not only the person’s life and the lives of the family, especially their other half who ends up caring for them.


Therefore, I do an interest in making sure I and others don’t have dementia. Especially, as I want to be writing, living and maybe podcasting until I die. And that all relies on my mind so I don’t want to lose it.


Which is where this new study comes in.


Beker, Ganz et al (2021)

These researchers from the Netherlands wanted to examine what some 100 year olds were doing to keep their minds sharp. Therefore, they examined over 330 100 years olds who their carers confirmed were mentally sharp.


Following this the participants went under extensive testing that tested a lot of different cognitive abilities. For example, verbal, reasoning, processing speed, attention and much more.


Afterwards the researchers collected the participant’s health, sight, hearing and more physical data points. Then they followed the participants until they died or were no longer able to participant in the study.


The results showed some amazing results because none of the participants experienced any major loss in their cognitive abilities. Except from some slight losses in the short term memory but everything else was intact.


What’s even more interesting is after they died 44 participants had autopsies and they measured the typical signs of Alzheimer’s. For example, the amount of plaques in their brains.

The results showed despite their being signs of Alzheimer’s in their brains, none of the participants showed any signs or symptoms of Alzheimer’s in their behaviour or cognition.

The same goes for people with increased risk of developing the condition due to genetic factors.


Cognitive Psychology Conclusions and Real World Implications

Whilst the researchers weren’t able to draw any firm conclusions from the study, there were a number of tips they could draw out that contributed to these people’s “cognitive resilience” that allowed them to resist the effects of the condition.


The first factor was most of them required a high level of education with most of them going to university and getting a degree, over half of these people lived independently. So I think this just goes to show the importance of learning throughout life and enjoy learning. You’re probably getting a lot of benefits from reading books, listening to this podcast, watch documentaries and so on.


Another factor was most of the participants had good vision and hearing abilities. Which is important because when people lose these abilities then they lose social connections and by extension they cannot process as much information. (Because it’s not there) Leading to cognitive decline.


Finally, the participants were physically fit with over 75% of the participants being able to walk independently at the beginning of the study.


Overall, whilst there are no firm conclusions that are 100% going to work were found during the study. These amazing 100 year olds were able to help us find possible leads for future research and possible ideas about how to make sure we don’t suffer cognitive decline in old age.


Personally, I’m going to keep exercising and learning throughout my life to increase the chances of me being okay in later life.


I really hope you enjoyed today’s episode.


If you want to learn more, please check out:

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Cognitive Psychology: A Guide To Neuroscience, Neuropsychology and Cognitive Psychology Third Edition. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it.


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Cognitive Psychology Reference:

Beker N, Ganz A, Hulsman M, et al. Association of Cognitive Function Trajectories in Centenarians With Postmortem Neuropathology, Physical Health, and Other Risk Factors for Cognitive Decline. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(1):e2031654. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.31654

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