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Bees Have Discovered Fountain of Youth

Bees are amazing creatures. Scientists have discovered that older honey bees REVERSE brain aging when they take on nest responsibilities typically handled by much younger bees. They discovered that tricking older, foraging bees into doing social tasks inside the nest causes changes in the molecular structure of their brains. These findings suggest that social interventions may be used to slow or treat age-related dementia.

Biologist Gro Amdam says, "We knew from previous research that when bees stay in the nest and take care of larvae--the bee babies--they remain mentally competent for as long as we observe them. However, after a period of nursing, bees fly out gathering food and begin aging very quickly. After just two weeks, foraging bees have worn wings, hairless bodies, and more importantly, lose brain function, which is basically measured as the ability to learn new things. We wanted to find out if there was plasticity in this aging pattern so we asked the question, 'What would happen if we asked the foraging bees to take care of larval babies again?'"

This might mean that for humans, becoming active, INVOLVED grandparents may keep our minds young. Amdam says, "Maybe social interventions--changing how you deal with your surroundings--is something we can do today to help our brains stay younger. Since the proteins being researched in people are the same proteins bees have, these proteins may be able to spontaneously respond to specific social experiences."

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