Neuroarchaeologists, a term I haven’t heard before, but one we’ll likely hear into the future. Genetics, neurology, genealogy, population genetics….they are all becoming intermixed today solving puzzles that are so complex that just a few years ago, there would have been no prayer of solving them at all.
Take early onset Alzheimers, for example. Keep in mind that this type of Alzheimer’s is only one of several, and much about this disease remains unknown, but for this particular kind of Alzheimer’s disease, this breakthrough is monumental, as is the fact that they can trace it to the Iberian peninsula in the 16th century.
The history of our ancestors truly is in our genes.
This research was performed at the University of California at Santa Barbara and published this month in Alzheimer’s and Dementia, the Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. Unfortunately, the academic article is behind a paywall.
Researchers tested more than 100 family members who have the disease. While many predictably showed onset signs of the disease as expected about age 45, some appeared to be protected by as much as a decade. The question was what was protecting these people and does that protective mechanism have relevance for the rest of the people afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease. The answer isn’t yet evident, and research continues, but the process they used to identify this mutation is fascinating.
The team worked with historians and genealogists and using records as old as 1540, managed to track this family, along with their mutation, to a single individual from the Iberian peninsula about the time that Spanish Conquistadors were colonizing Columbia in the early 1500s.
They may call this new field neuroarchaeology, but I think it’s more neurogenealogy, unless they’re excavating graves someplace. But I bet they think neuroarchaeology just sounds more scientific. So, want to get assistance with your genealogy….having a dread disease, or being a politician….either one will help immensely.