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The Scientific American Healthy Aging Brain


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Table of Contents

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

About the Author

Judith Horstman is the author of The Scientific American Day in the Life of Your Brain, The Scientific American Brave New Brain, and The Scientific American Book of Love, Sex, and the Brain. She's an award-winning science journalist whose work has been widely published and is the author of four other books. Visit her Web site at Scientific American is one of the most popular science magazines in the world.


Praise for The Scientific American Healthy Aging Brain ?Judith Horstman elegantly describes the well-aged brain, and what the latest research suggests to preserve its power and its function.??Mehmet Oz, M.D., professor of Surgery, New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons "The Scientific American Healthy Aging Brain is a trusty guide to vibrant later years. Any baby boomer would be smart to read this book?and so be likelier to stay smart longer."?Daniel Goleman, author of The Brain and Emotional Intelligence ?This brilliant book on the aging brain provides vital knowledge about how our brains change with age and what we can do to enhance the incredible potential contained within each of us. A must read for all aging brains!??Marc Agronin, M.D., geriatric psychiatrist and author of How We Age ?Packed with practical advice and the latest information about the brain as it ages, the Healthy Aging Brain is an indispensable user?s manual, essential for keeping your brain young and healthy as the cerebral odometer ticks away.? ?R. Douglas Fields, author of The Other Brain

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