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Indd 33 1/29/15 4:40 PM SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN ST R AT E G I E S MEMORY IN OLD AGE: NOT A LOST CAUSE Researchers have found ways to lessen age-related forgetfulness By Hal Arkowitz and Scott O. Lilienfeld S E C R E T S O F S T A Y I N G Y O U N G W HEN MICK JAGGER FIRST SANG “WHAT A DRAG IT is getting old,” he was 23 years old. Now at 71, he is still a veritable Jumpin’ Jack Flash on stage. Jagger seems to have found the secret to staying physically fit in his advancing years, but getting old can be a drag on the psyche.
M. Ahern. Wiley-Blackwell, 2013. SENIOR MOMENTS WE DO NOT KNOW EXACTLY what those Upper Paleolithic Europeans started doing culturally that allowed so many more of them to live to older age. But there can be no doubt that this increased adult survivorship itself had far-reaching effects. As Kristen Hawkes of the University of Utah, Hillard Kaplan of the University of New Mexico and others have shown in their studies of several modern-day hunter-gatherer groups, grandparents routinely contribute economic and social resources to their descendants, increasing both the number of offspring their children s c i e n t i f i c a m e r i c a n .
Golomb, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, suggests that one atrisk group may be individuals with defects in their mitochondria, the structures within cells that make energy. Statins prevent the body from making an antioxidant that neutralizes the damaging free radicals created by mitochondrial activity. If brain cells—which consume lots of energy—already have mitochondrial problems, then statin therapy could tip the scale and cause noticeable symptoms, such as trouble learning.