Members in the Media
From: PBS

A Neuroscientist Lays Out the Keys to Aging Well

As a neuroscientist, professor emeritus of psychology, musician and best-selling author, Daniel Levitin has extensively studied the brain and its impact on aging. His latest book, “Successful Aging,” explores the questions: what happens in the brain as we age and what are the keys to aging well? NewsHour Weekend’s Christopher Booker recently spoke to Levitin to learn more.

You set out to write this book, you said it was because you had questions of your own. What questions were you looking to answer?

Daniel Levitin:

I looked at people like my parents who are in their 80s and very active and engaged. They they tire me out. And people like Jane Goodall or Rodney Crowell who’s still only in his 60s, but I think doing the best work of his career. Paul Simon, who I think did the best work of his career in the last five years. What are they doing? Where does this come from? I wanted to know. I wanted to get some of that for me.

Christopher Booker:How have your views changed about your own aging process?

Daniel Levitin: I’ve come to see aging as not inevitably a period of decline and loss and irrelevance. But a period of potentially renewed engagement, energy and meaningful activities. Getting older myself, I’m 62. I’m spending more time with older people who are just marvelously entertaining, full of life and full of activity.

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Bright accomplished people do not stop being bright nor stop accomplishing. At 72, I have noticed that I slow down and smell the proverbial roses, but I continue to study (economics for now), review, publish, and embrace new challenges that pop up in my retirement Happilyeverafter.

However, I am concerned that decline remains the norm. It just lies below the radar of most of us. We do not spend much time in decaying neighborhoods, trailer parks, and low-rent apartments. Decades of substance use, poor diet, economic stress, and inactivity cumulatively impact any genome. In addition, retiring with subsistence incomes often increases daily stress not to mention creating distractions that impede accomplishments.

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