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Surprising Science

White Brain Matter: A Key to Aging Well

The way white matter or brain nerve fibers are connected around the brain affects the longevity of human intelligence in old age. Researchers believe they can now focus on treatments to savor the sharp mind. 

Article written by guest writer Rin Mitchell

What’s the Latest Development?

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh have found that people with a well-integrated wiring of myelinated nerve fibers (white matter) in the brain will be sharper well into old age—when mental decline could potentially occur. Researchers used a few different imaging techniques and have found that a lack of these properly-wired interconnected fibers have a negative impact on human intelligenceby changing the networks and slowing down the rate at which the brain processes and performs. Images studied came from a group of 1100 people born in 1936 whose intelligence and general health had been tracked since they were 11 years old. This research, which is part of a large study called the Disconnected Mind Project, identifies the differences in cognitive aging in people. 

What’s the Big Idea? 

The comprehension of human intelligence for all ages and the connection of white matter allow doctors to focus on effective treatments for pathological and age-related mental complications. In addition, with this knowledge medical experts can identify strategies to keep the human brain in good mental shape in old age. 


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