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The Scientific American Healthy Aging Brain: The Neuroscience of Making the Most of Your Mature Mind

The Scientific American Healthy Aging Brain: The Neuroscience of Making the Most of Your Mature Mind

Judith Horstman, Scientific American

ISBN: 978-0-470-64773-8

Jun 2012

280 pages

In Stock

$25.95

Description

Good news about getting older from Scientific American and Scientific American Mind 

The Scientific American Healthy Aging Brain taps into the most current research to present a realistic and encouraging view of the well-aged brain, a sobering look at what can go wrong––and at what might help you and your brain stay healthy longer. Neurologists and psychologists have discovered the aging brain is much more elastic and supple than previously thought, and that happiness actually increases with age. While our short-term memory may not be what it was, dementia is not inevitable. Far from disintegrating, the elder brain can continue to develop and adapt in many ways and stay sharp as it ages. 

  • Offers new insights on how an aging brain can repair itself, and the five best strategies for keeping your brain healthy
  • Shows how older brains can acquire new skills, perspective, and productivity
  • Dispels negative myths about aging
  • Explores what to expect as our brains grow older 

With hope and truth, this book helps us preserve what we’ve got, minimize what we’ve lost, and optimize the vigor and health of our maturing brains.

Acknowledgments xi

Preface: Live Long, and Live Well xiii

Introduction: Welcome to the New Old Age 1

What’s Old, Anyway? 2

How Scientists Are Researching Your Brain 3

PART ONE How Your Brain Grows 7

Chapter 1. The Well-Aged Brain: Older and Happier 9

The Myth of a Sad Old Age 10

Actually, It’s Getting Better All the Time 12

Great Late Achievers 14

Are Grandparents Safer Drivers? 16

Do You Think I’m Sexy? Apparently, Yes—at Any Age 16

A Swell of Centenarians: One Hundred Reasons to Take Care of Your Brain 20

Chapter 2. How Your Brain Grows: Zero to Sixty 21

In the Beginning: Your Fetal and Baby Brain 23

A Brief Tour of Your Brain 24

The Gray and the White: Neurons and Myelin 26

Childhood: Building the Brain 28

Th e Teen Brain: Not Yet Ready for Prime Time 29

Get Smart Younger, Delay Dementia Older 32

The Peak Years: Twenties to Sixties 33

Chapter 3. Your Brain Growing Older: What to Expect in a Healthy Aging Brain 37

The Usual Effects of Aging 39

Do the Brains of Men and Women Age Differently? 40

How Memory Works: The Short Version 41

Why White Matter Matters 45

The Aging Brain: Is It Less Connected? 46

Forgetting May Be Vital to Remembering 47

Five Things Most People Get Wrong About Memory 48

The Good News: Slower Is Sometimes Better 51

More Easily Distracted: Why Multitasking Is a Task 55

PART TWO Threats to Your Brain 59

Chapter 4. What Can Go Wrong 61

When Your Brain Needs Help: How Can You Tell? 64

Th e Darkness of Dementia 67

Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Subtle Loss 69

Stroke: Th e Brain Attack 70

A Healing Stroke 72

Parkinson’s Disease 74

Your Brain on Diabetes: Not So Sweet 75

Traumatic Brain Injury: A Blow to Your Thinking Brain 77

Depression: An Abnormal State 78

The Legacy of Cancer: “Chemo Brain” 81

Too Much of a Good Thing: When Medications Mess Up Your Mind 82

What—Me Worry? 85

Chapter 5. Alzheimer’s Disease: The Brain Killer 87

What Is Alzheimer’s Disease? 88

Chasing the Cause 91

Anxiety and Alzheimer’s Disease: Another Reason to Chill 94

Maybe It’s Bad Neural Housekeeping? 97

The Search for a Cure—or Even a Treatment That Works 100

Looking Beyond the Brain 104

An Ounce of Prevention: Marijuana Might Benefit Aging Brains 106

The Future—Without Alzheimer’s Disease 109

PART THREE How to Optimize Your Aging Brain 111

Chapter 6. The Big Five for Optimal Brain Function 113

The Cognitive Shop 116

How to Keep Your Brain Healthy and Nimble 119

Chapter 7. Exercise Your Body: Move Your Body for a Better Brain 123

Th is Brain Was Made for Walking 126

It’s Never Too Late to Start Exercising 127

A Fine Balance: Yoga, Tai Chi, and Fall Prevention 131

Chapter 8. Challenge Your Brain 135

Educated Brains Stay Better Longer 137

Why Testing Boosts Learning 138

Do Brain Fitness Products Work? 139

Computer Training May Keep You Driving Longer 143

Th e Bottom Line 144

Chapter 9. Nutrition: Fuel for Thought 147

Glucose Is Not So Sweet to the Brain 151

Forget the Fructose 152

Omega-3, the Essential Oil 154

Your Brain on Berries, Chocolate, and Wine: The Flavonoid Connection 155

Caffeine: A Perk for Your Brain 162

Is There a Pill for Th at? Supplements and Vitamins 163

Chapter 10. The Social Treatment 167

You’ve Got a Friend, We Hope 169

Talk to Teens, Live Longer 171

Finding and Making Friends in Later Life 173

Chapter 11. Creativity, Spirit, and Attitude: Enrich Thyself 175

Th e Art of an Active Brain 176

Live Larger to Live Better 178

Th e Power of Meditation for the Aging Brain 178

Smile! It Could Make You Happier 181

Attitudes Matter: Th e Optimism Factor 182

PART FOUR The Future for Your Brain 185

Chapter 12. Predictions, Promises, and Possibilities 187

A Fix to Reverse Memory Decline 190

Are You Saving for Th ose Final Years? 191

RX for Th is Good Life 193

Chapter 13. Living in the Now 195

Living with an Aging Brain 196

How We (Eventually) Die 197

Going Out with a Bang: The Brain Surges Just Before Death 199

Living in the Now 200

Sources 203

Illustration Credits 219

Glossary 221

Resources for Aging and Coping 231

About the Author 235

Index 237