NeuRA Magazine #26

In the media

CAN HUMANS LIVE TO 150?

The international Living to 100 Conference was recently held in Sydney hosted by the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA), UNSW Sydney.

The conference brought together leaders in the field of ageing from around the globe to debate and unravel the secrets of successful ageing.

The internationally acclaimed line up of speakers included NeuRA’s CEO Professor Peter Schofield, NeuRA Senior Research Scientist, Dr Karen Mather and NeuRA Senior Research Facility Manager, Dr Claire Shepherd.

Over the two-day conference experts deliberated on the latest research on exceptionally long-lived individuals, in particular centenarians and supercentenarians. But a hotly debated question at the conference was, Can humans live to 150? While some experts were pessimistic, Professor Peter Schofield, who has been studying the brain for decades is more optimistic.

“The things that may make it possible to conceive that humans will live to 150 are probably going to have to be quite innovative – they are probably going to need things like potential genetic therapies, drug therapies,” Professor Schofield told SBS News.

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FEEL THE BUZZ IN THE AIR? US TOO.

Cortical activity during balance tasks in ageing and clinical groups using functional near-infrared spectroscopy

Prof Stephen Lord, Dr Jasmine Menant Walking is not automatic and requires attention and brain processing to maintain balance and prevent falling over. Brain structure and function deteriorate with ageing and neurodegenerative disorders, in turn impacting both cognitive and motor functions.   This series of studies will investigate: How do age and/or disease- associated declines in cognitive functions affect balance control? How is this further impacted by psychological, physiological and medical factors (eg. fear, pain, medications)? How does the brain control these balance tasks?     Approach The experiments involve experimental paradigms that challenge cognitive functions of interest (eg.visuo-spatial working memory, inhibitory function). I use functional near-infrared spectroscopy to study activation in superficial cortical regions of interest (eg. prefrontal cortex, supplementary motor area…). The studies involve young and older people as well as clinical groups (eg.Parkinson’s disease).   Studies Cortical activity during stepping and gait adaptability tasks Effects of age, posture and task condition on cortical activity during reaction time tasks Influence of balance challenge and concern about falling on brain activity during walking Influence of lower limb pain/discomfort on brain activity during stepping   This research will greatly improve our understanding of the interactions between brain capacity, functions and balance control across ageing and diseases, psychological, physiological and medical factors, allows to identify targets for rehabilitation. It will also help identifying whether exercise-based interventions improve neural efficiency for enhanced balance control.
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