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Age is just a number but for some reason, as we get older some of us face serious issues within our brains. While not a lot of people realize this dementia in all of its forms is quite common in the world today. 

While we’re not quite sure why some people get dementia and others do not, as time continues to pass more and more research is being done on things of the sort. I recently came across a study that is working on exactly that, the researchers who carried it out are trying to help us overall better understand why some people are able to remain sharp where-as others are not. 

This study is titled ‘Stronger bilateral functional connectivity of the frontoparietal control network in near-centenarians and centenarians without dementia’. For those who do not know a centenarian is someone who is at least 100 years of age. For this study, these researchers looked at functional connectivity in these people who were close in age to centenarians and those who were exactly that. They were able to from there find that it seems people the age of 95 or more without dementia tend to have stronger functional connectivity when it comes to ‘left brain-right brain’ things. This is a huge find and could help us to understand more in the future as research continues to be done. 

The abstract of this study goes as follows:

Centenarians without dementia can be considered as a model of successful ageing and resistance against age-related cognitive decline. Is there something special about their brain functional connectivity that helps them preserve cognitive function into the 11th decade of life? In a cohort of 57 dementia-free near-centenarians and centenarians (95–103 years old) and 66 cognitively unimpaired younger participants (76–79 years old), we aimed to investigate brain functional characteristics in the extreme age range using resting-state functional MRI. Using group-level independent component analysis and dual regression, results showed group differences in the functional connectivity of seven group-level independent component (IC) templates, after accounting for sex, education years, and grey matter volume, and correcting for multiple testing at family-wise error rate of 0.05. After Bonferroni correction for testing 30 IC templates, near-centenarians and centenarians showed stronger functional connectivity between right frontoparietal control network (FPCN) and left inferior frontal gyrus (Bonferroni-corrected p ​= ​0.024), a core region of the left FPCN. The investigation of between-IC functional connectivity confirmed the voxel-wise result by showing stronger functional connectivity between bilateral FPCNs in near-centenarians and centenarians compared to young-old controls. In addition, near-centenarians and centenarians had weaker functional connectivity between default mode network and fronto-temporo-parietal network compared to young-old controls. In near-centenarians and centenarians, stronger functional connectivity between bilateral FPCNs was associated with better cognitive performance in the visuospatial domain. The current study highlights the key role of bilateral FPCN connectivity in the reserve capacity against age-related cognitive decline.

This study overall and the findings it was able to come to make us wonder about a lot of things. Yes, as noted more research will need to be done on this topic but the more we understand the differences between the brains of those with dementia and those without the more we can and will understand about dementia itself in the future. From here we can work to understand how to strengthen this connectivity within our brains and perhaps in time prevent dementia as a whole depending on where this research goes.