Despite Alzheimer’s plaques, some seniors remain mentally sharp | Science News

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Despite Alzheimer’s plaques, some seniors remain mentally sharp

Proteins linked to dementia don’t diminish memory in some brains

1:24pm, November 16, 2016
elderly woman

MANY MARBLES  A small number of very old people retain good memories, despite having signs of Alzheimer’s in their brains, a new study suggests.

SAN DIEGO — A small number of people maintain razor-sharp memories into their 90s, despite having brains chock-full of the plaques and tangles linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers suspect that these people’s brains are somehow impervious to the usual devastation thought to be caused by those plaques and tangles.

Researchers studied the brains of people 90 years old or older who had excellent memories, performing as well as people in their 50s and 60s on some tests. Postmortem brain tissue from eight such people revealed a range of Alzheimer’s features. Two participants had remarkably clean brains with few signs of amyloid-beta plaques and tangles of tau protein. Four participants had middling levels.

Surprisingly, the other two samples were packed with plaques and tangles, enough to qualify those people for an Alzheimer’s diagnosis

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