The Aging Brain by Thad A Polk: The Great Courses

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I’ve been in a serious funk lately and I started about a dozen books, I made it maybe 10% into each of them, and I set them all down with genuine intent to come back. I’m now super fuzzy and I’ve muddled the stories together in my head and everything just isn’t working. I’m just not in the mood for anything sci-fi or fantasy at the moment. I decided to clear my head out with some nonfiction to give my brain a chance to reboot.

For a Great Course, this was on the short side and I picked it for that reason. It’s concise, to the point, and informative. Because this is an interest of mine and I’ve tried to read about it often, about a third of this book was old news to me, a third was mild building on familiar concepts, and then about a third was new to me and very interesting. The professor has a great presentative voice and makes it fun and engaging which is so needed for non-fiction narrations that can get feel very dry very fast.

This goes into a lot more than just Alzheimer’s and things like that. It goes over the process of aging, and weird things we’ve done with worms and mice to double life spans, and what that could potentially mean for us as a species in the future when we get a better grasp on genetics and their potentials.

This goes into episodic vs semantic memory, neural degenerative disorders, behavior changes, physical changes that aren’t related to the brain etc. There’s talk about how longevity can be linked to genetics through twin studies, but can also be equally influenced by daily decisions and lifestyle – and what those things are. It’s pretty thorough but still not super technical. A background or ground-level knowledge of the topic isn’t required to enjoy this one, it’s pretty accessible.

I’d recommend this for people of any age, many of us have parents that will eventually age into their 80’s and since working in the field that takes care of our elders, I’ve seen that people who have some basic knowledge of what’s happening to their parents have a more relaxed and strategic approach to their care needs.