Wisdom And Successful Aging – Research On Aging
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this ucsd tv program is a presentation of university of california television for educational and non commercial use only we all strive to live a long prosperous and healthy life with advances in health and medical sciences this goal is ever more attainable the salmon rose Stein Institute for research on Aging is a nonprofit organized research unit under the auspices of the University of California at San Diego committed to advancing lifelong health and independence through research education and patient care to better empower and improve the lives of young and old alike the Stein Institute presents the following program our speaker tonight is dr. Dilip Jessie who’s incidentally the director of the Stein Institute and he will be talking about wisdom and successful aging so introducing him is a major challenge because you get a page and a half of all of his accomplishments but I will summarize briefly is the Estelle and Edgar Levi chair and Ageing and the director of the Sun Institute for Research on Aging and also a distinguished professor of psychiatry and neuroscience is at the University of California San Diego he’s also the director of the advance Center for innovations and services and intervention research at UCSD which is funded by the National Institutes of mental health he is funded by several research grants and is the author or co author on over 600 publications in peer reviewed journals he has published ten books and and is also the editor of the American Journal of geriatric psychiatry he’s the former president of the American Association for geriatric psychiatry and the West Coast College of Biological Psychiatry and also the founding president of the International College of geriatrics cycle in neural pharmacology he is the editor he is listed also as some of the best one of the best doctors in America and received a number of awards for his clinical work as well as for his research and he is also I guess on a personal note when I well I’ve found a most known for is a wonderful mentor and encourage her of young people to understand and work towards careers in geriatric psychiatry and mental health and aging and I think has spurred many of us to to to study in this field and in particular in this new field of successful aging so without further ado I will introduce dr. Jessie good afternoon thank you dr. day for a kind introduction it’s actually an honor to be introduced by Colin death colleagues like him who have grown up in the department and have become major researchers in the world or a matter of pride for all of us usually in these public lectures it is my job to introduce the speaker so today it’s actually a privilege for me to give the talk itself so I will be talking on wisdom and successful aging I’m going to begin with a brief historical perspective of wisdom then I will summarize our attempts to find common elements in the definition of wisdom next discuss some literature on neurobiology of wisdom the question is is the receipt for wisdom in the brain next what is the relationship of wisdom to aging in general and successful aging in particular next neuroplasticity of Aging this is one of the most exciting areas in neuroscience research in the last 15 years and finally what are the implications of all these implications of wisdom and successful aging as many of you know wisdom has been largely a religious and philosophical concept Sophia is a Greek goddess of wisdom the word philosophy derived from Phyllis and Sophia and literally means the lower of wisdom interestingly there are more goddesses of wisdom than God the wisdom in different religions just goes on to show that people always knew that women are wiser than men as I mentioned this is a long standing there is a long standing religious and philosophical tradition in the Bible there are seven books of wisdom the most famous of these is of course the book of Solomon or wisdom of Solomon that is however been relatively little scientific research on wisdom there are this kind of a pseudo scientific attempt at localizing wisdom in the brain by gall in the early part of the 19th century she developed what is called phrenology he suggested that the bombs on our skull represent different psychological ability areas such as intelligence law one of those was sagacity or wisdom and interestingly he located that and the front part of the brain covering what today we would call the prefrontal cortex as I said the work on wisdom in research has been rather recent because in 1970s that gerontologist sociologists and psychologists became interested in wisdom we did a Pub. Med search to find out how many papers there are on wisdom that were published over the decades in 1970 there were only about 15 papers on wisdom in the last decade that number has increased to 350 so clearly this is an area that is attracting public interest and increasingly scientific interest when you talk about wisdom the usual question is how do you define wisdom different people define wisdom differently so we wanted to start our work by doing a literature review and finding out what are the definitions that other investigators have used over the last 40 years we found about a dozen definitions of wisdom published in the literature so my colleague Trey Meeks and I we want we sort out those elements that were common to at least three definitions of wisdom and we found out six such elements and I listed them not in any order of priority or importance one of them is pragmatic knowledge of life or social decision making how does a person make decisions in everyday lives second is emotional regulation ability of a person to control the emotions so they don’t fluctuate widely next one is pro social attitudes and behaviors so this includes things like compassion empathy altruism doing things for others then comes reflection or self understanding insight sort of knowing yourself then dealing effectively with uncertainty and ambiguity as we all know most situations in life are not black and white they’re gray and yet we have to make decisions so how does a person make decision and finally something that may be uniquely human is what may be called value relativism or tolerance this is tolerance of divergent values for example you may have strong opinions about something so like stem cell research and yet you can accept that somebody else may have opposite opinion and yet the other person may also be right or the other person has a right to have a different opinion so that kind of value relativism or tolerance may be something that is really a sign of not just human nature but probably higher level wisdom so those are the common elements we found from the definitions published in the literature next thing we wanted to do was we wanted to poll the experts on wisdom in the world today and find out what they thought so we did a study using what is called the Delphi method for R and panel method we told about 30 international experts on wisdom these experts were identified on the basis of their publications and reputation in the field and we asked them whether wisdom was different from intelligence on one hand and spirituality on the other because clearly these three things share some elements and the question was is wisdom really distinct or is it just part of those two things so we gave them a list of characteristics about 45 to 50 and asked them to rate these characteristics on wisdom intelligence and spirituality we found that there are the surprising consensus among this expert the aggregate wisdom was distinctly different there was an overlap obviously this term does include intelligence wisdom does include pro social behavior which are part of spirituality but they are not identical this term also includes bunch of other things and total consensus so that wisdom is a complex uniquely human trait which involves not just cognitive development but also emotional development it is experience driven it can be learned and it increases with age the elements that were acknowledged by this expert has been common to wisdom we’re rich knowledge of life practical life skills emotional regulation social cognition social cooperation insight tolerance of ambiguity and value relativism tolerance of diversity these are exactly the same elements that I mentioned earlier first on the review of definition so it’s interesting that there is considerable similarity between these experts thinking and the definitions in the literature they also suggested a few other things like openness to new experience successful coping strategies resilience and sense of humor but the similarities were important at the same time both of those the literature review as well as export these are modern Western definitions so one question was how would these definitions relate to very ancient Eastern philosophy and religion with that in mind we looked at what may be called the Hindu Bible it is a bhagavad gita my colleague if sit ye and I looked at the Gita which literally the book word bakka key time in the song of the core of the song of the divine one this was written several hundred years BC and it is based on the yoga’s which were written several thousand years BC the modern Western thinking is primarily based on Greek philosophers writings Aristotle Plato Socrates and really has nothing to do with the writing in the Gita which was which came from thousands of years ago in an entirely different part of the world so there is no reason why there should be much similarity between the concept of wisdom in the Gita and the modern Western concept what we did was we used to mix qualitative quantitative methodology with the help of an medical anthropologist we use two translations of Gita in English one was by a westerner and one by a Hindu Swami we use Oxford Dictionary Rogers say Sora’s or Sanskrit lexicon and we wanted to find out how many times the word wisdom or its synonym such a CT or their opposites all your foolishness were used in the Gita and in what context so the many shows in what context where those terms used and this kind of software helps you analyze the data in terms of the context using that we found these as a elements of wisdom in the Gita general knowledge of life emotional regulation compassion sacrifice insight humility and decisiveness these are Phi of the sixth element that I mentioned earlier first on the western definitions it’s really remarkable that the basic concept of wisdom has not changed over centuries and across job graphic boundaries there were a few other elements too of course beauty and work self contentedness this is a religious document so there was a law of God this also reflected Eastern philosophy so it emphasizes the enunciation of materialistic pursuits and most of the Western definitions the wisdom that would not be an element the main point O is a commonalities it is really impressive that the basic construct of wisdom was similar in the document is written thousands of years apart and tens of thousands of miles apart what it suggests is that wisdom may not be purely a socio cultural concept but probably is biologically based it is something that is a part of innate human brain if you will which then raised a question is a neurobiology of the wisdom or where in the brain may wisdom be located now how do you decide whether certain liability is located in the brain how do we decide its location for something that is easy to do for example there is what is called area number four broad months area four in the frontal cortex that associated with motor activity how do you know that if you stimulate area for the person moves his limb under and if that area is damaged then the person becomes paralyzed say it is easy to know that area four represents motor activity how do you do that with wisdom obviously it is difficult we can’t stimulate an area and certainly person becomes wise that we had to decide the reverse is not hard though if an area is damaged can that produce loss of wisdom so that was our question is there literature suggesting that damage to specific parts of the brain results in loss of wisdom and the damage can be of two types one is brain injury so head injury specific area and diseases of the brain and I will talk in the next few slides about examples of both damage and disease causing loss of wisdom and then I will also present a review of literature in which we looked at neuroimaging studies in normal people so starting with brain damage some of you may have heard the famous case of Phineas Gage Phineas Gage was a simple common man in the 19th century she was a railroad construction worker in Vermont this is his basic description he was not highly educated but he was a nice person he was a smart person got along well with other health others here the shrewd businessman so everybody thought of him at the wise man then here a very bizarre accident while working as a construction worker there’s a wide explosion and a large iron rod we went to the back of his left eye and came through the top of his head you think that accident like that would probably kill a person because miraculous he’d not only survived but he recovered almost completely she had no physical science except for blindness in the left eye also his most of his cognitive abilities were reasonably intact the only thing that changed and that change dramatically was his personality this is his description by his own personal physician after his injury he described him as having become faithful irreverent profane non differential impatient obstinate capricious vacillating devising childish exact opposite of wisdom you remember the elements I had talked about in wisdom social decision making emotional regulation pro social behavior inside decisiveness you see that all of those elements are lost and where was the damage the damage was more or less restricted to left prefrontal cortex there have been studies of his skull that have been published in science and other journal so an example of a very restricted damage causing loss of wisdom that’s not the only case there have been number of other cases reported since then the most one of the most modern cases is that described by researchers at UCSD dr. Dean Delos and Allison Cato who is actually our research fellow now they described was 26 year old man where exemplary academic and professional record he was in the military she had she also had a bizarre accident the passenger seat so the white explosion and she think there was damage to both hit the prefrontal cortex on both side especially on the left side they did extensive neuropsychological testing and they found that in many areas he was quite normal his IQ was 119 and yet his social functioning declined precipitously he could not hold a job the best job he did was that of a newspaper delivery person he got married and had a marital breakup three times estranged from each children very different from the person he was before his accident and again with fairly localized damage to his prefrontal cortex so that’s about injury what about diseases there is one disease called frontotemporal dementia it is one of the more common types of dementia we all know about Alzheimer’s dementia Polyphemus usually occurs after the age of 65 and is characterized by memory loss frontotemporal dementia occurs earlier in life usually in the 50s and memory loss is not a characteristic feature the main symptom change in personality and these are the sensing of poor social decision making loss of personal social awareness disinhibition impulsivity socio operty lack of empathy emotional coordinates apathy poor insight self centeredness once again accept antithesis of wisdom and there are subtypes of this in which the damage is more or less restricted to left prefrontal cortex so so these are examples that suggest that fairly localized damage or disease of the brain can result in changes set of it wisdom we did a literature review them of studies of neuro imaging primarily that related to specific components of wisdom such as compassion altruism emotional regulation and so on and we found that there are some parts of the brain that they were over represented in this areas one is dorsolateral prefrontal cortex one is the ventromedial prefrontal cortex anterior cingulate these three by the way are part of the prefrontal cortex and then there is amygdala which is kind of Center for emotions and that’s a part of the limbic striatum one noteworthy thing prefrontal cortex is the newest part of the brain in the evolution whereas the limbic striatum is the oldest part of the brain in evolution so what we have proposed is that wisdom involves a balance between the oldest and the newest parts of the brain a simplistic way of looking at this is this that I mentioned four areas of the brain one of them is dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex think about it as proverbial father whose job is to be rational cold calculating competitive that tells you what to do what not to do for your own sake the ventromedial prefrontal cortex is like proud of your mother emotional kind supportive social in some ways if you think about it proud this part is necessary for one’s own survival this part is necessary for survival of the species so we don’t become totally selfish and of course these two don’t always go hand in hand so sometimes there is a conflict so when there’s conflict we go to our uncle or aunt so that’s the anterior cingulate and at the same time you always need a friend on whose shoulder we can cry and that’s the proverbial friend that the limbic striatum so strim can be conceptualized as balance among these structures which help us behave in a way that is useful to us and the society so what does this term have to do with aging what happens with aging to the brain now we know that with aging several things decline we become slower as we age we become physically slower we become mentally slower also it becomes harder to do quick thing in contrast to our kids or grandkids who are handling ten different things at the same time reaction time slows working memory recall becomes difficult I may have somebody is the name on the tip of my tongue but I just can’t get it I just can’t recall it some aspects of executive function learning new things also becomes harder so these new gadgets that come on market all the time the kids can learn so fast and older age becomes a little harder to learn does that mean everything goes down with age though no the things that describe the last slide are what have called fluid mechanics they decline with age there are other thing that don’t decline with age these are called crystallized pragmatics for example I told you that we have difficulty in recalling somebody’s name but if you give me a list of my people I will say exactly that the third person that’s the one I was thinking about that this recognition is in can recall is difficult but recognition is in time that means that name is stored somewhere in my memory and that is fine similarly autobiographical memories intact people remember even at the age of 80 what happened when they were 15 years old they may not remember what they had for breakfast yesterday but they will remember what happened when they were 15 so autobiographical memory remains intact vocabulary remains intact and even increases in people who read and write and then there are some interesting examples of people who think that actually they become bigger with each doctor Montalcino got nobel prize in medicine at in 1982 last year she celebrated her 100th birthday and she said at that time my mind is sharper today than when I was 20 isn’t that remarkable for somebody to even say that another Nobel laureate Eric Kandel he said that at the age of 77 this was a quote from Wall Street Journal he said that I think I do science better now than I did when I was younger in science judgment is so important and now I have a better understanding of which problems are important and which are not so he’s talking about improved church men as he became older no of course you would say that these are Nobel laureate they’re geniuses and what happens to most average people as people become old we know that clearly the physical abilities go down physical disease that’s not happening and then there are psychosocial stressor so you would think that most people as they get older would become more unhappy more stressed out and their quality of life would be significantly lower does that happen though as Colin mentioned we published this book successful cognitive and emotional aging and this is a focus that we have been following for the last five six years the one question is how do you define successful aging so we started with a review of the literature and there is no single definition of successful aging we found 20 year study that between them had 29 different definitions but the most commonly used definition was physical health most people think about successful aging as meaning absence of disease and absence of disability so the usual notion of successful aging is at the age of 90 you can climb a mountain and you can run a marathon unfortunately that doesn’t happen to most of us so we wanted to find out what do people really think as a age so we did a study of 3000 seniors in San Diego County that study we have been doing it for last several years and we gave them a detailed survey one question we asked was rate yourself on successful aging on a scale from one to ten one is worse ten is best and you just let yourself you we didn’t tell them how we define successful eating we said you define it whatever way you want to but still just tell us where you are on that scale and then of course we looked at bunch of other things so as I said we have studied more than 3,000 people these are people from local retirement communities as well as people participating in some other ongoing studies at UCSD the only people we excluded were those in nursing homes because they could not have completed a survey most people were between sixty and hundred and two years of age and these were not super normal elderly these were average older people our usual sort of typical person in this study was an eighty year old woman who is a widow she lost her husband a few years ago she has arthritis diabetes hypertension she had a heart attack a few years ago she lives by herself she has some friend she does some things but financially she’s okay not great so she has clearly psychosocial stressors she has physical stressors so what would you think she would give herself on a scale of one to ten again one is the words pain is the best so we thought that most people would read themselves three four or five oh I should mention that most of these people as I said had physical illnesses and disability only 38% were free of disability only 28% had no DC so most people had decision disability what we found was that these people gave themselves 7 8 9 or 10 on the successful eating scale the mean rating was 8.4 this is really remarkable that objectively you would think that these people are not aging well and you’re subjectively they thought they were doing quite well and it is not just they thought that they were doing well they also made several other non physical criteria for successful aging they’re a metaphysical criteria but the non physical for example most of them were living independently that does not mean that they didn’t need help some of these people were in wheelchairs but they have control over their time their control or most of what they could do positive adaptation active engagement with life mastery growth life satisfaction cognitive function so they were doing quite well psycho socially and behaviorally not personally physically we also ran some focus group and individual interviews because talking to the people actually helps you understand how they are feeling more than some of these numbers from the data and so I will just show you a few chords in this two slide so one person said successful aging is not a matter of chronology as it’s a matter of attitude and frame of mind another said a lot of traumatic things happen in life set those stripes up from other side look back at them with interest and move on from there always think positively you had to be optimistic and this my favorite person sit on my hundred birthday I’m going to stop and think about what I’m going to do with the rest of my life so that kind of a positive eight is kind of a nike attitude we can do in spite of whatever disabilities we may have we also completed several individual interviews actually there was a medical Stone who conducted this study so one one of our participants said every time we do something new it’s a new adventure you had to learn new skills I reinvented myself but the sometimes so if you think about wisdom taking about people how their judgment improves with age and this is very interesting this person said when I was busy working I just worked and paid wealth and all that turned into what and I came here he came to social organization which was an advocacy group and he said I always wanted to help other people but I couldn’t do that earlier but now I got the opportunity if I can do something for somebody and knowing that I am not expecting anything back I’m doing it just because I enjoy doing it next we feel great inside so you see there is increasing pro social behavior altruism compassion empathy that of course it aging so if you look at it in sort of totality it looks like as people are getting older in spite of physical illnesses disabilities psychosocial stressor they feel better they become more pro social to keep themselves active they feel that they have better judgment than they had when they were younger and that is the paradox of aging that on the one hand the physical health decline some cognitive abilities decline such as memory under the hand the physical mental health and psychosocial functioning tend to improve now when I present those findings people outside California they say oh wow you live in California and so the California people are always weird so the results in California may not apply to the rest of the country rest of the world this was a study that were just recently completed it’s coming out in Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences Gallup phone survey of more than 340 thousand Americans across the country and they looked at psychological well being so similar to our question they asked people how you feel you are doing and this is really the bottom line so this shows celebrated global well being by age so people feel pretty good about themselves in our early twenties then the feeling starts going down hits the bottom around 4550 then it starts improving and people start feeling better about themselves and what they are doing as they age so this is an art of phenomenon unique to San Diego California but really we see that across the country and actually across the world does it have anything to do with wisdom quite lightly this is a study done by Monika order number of years ago and she said this the bottom line essentially that wisdom has a profoundly positive influence on a life satisfaction more so than physical health social financial situation that people who are wiser they feel better about themselves they do better whether they have physical illnesses and psychosocial disabilities are not what does wisdom really increase it aging this is the study again very recent study that is also coming out and preceding the National Academy of Sciences just look at this last conclusion in this study they found that social reasoning seemed to improve it age in spite of decline in fluid intelligence clearly intelligent is things like working memory recall the usual stuff that I talked about and what is social reasoning greater use of higher order reasoning schemes that emphasized need for multiple perspectives allowing for compromises recognizing limits of knowledge essentially judgment pro social behavior so those things improve and that’s what makes people feel better so there is increasing evidence that wisdom may be brewing you taste but then how is it possible that we know that with age the various physical and even the brain eye abilities go down there is clearly some degenerative change that occurs in the brain so how can anything get better with aging so that is the neuroplasticity of aging what it means is that the brain continues to be plastic in old age in other word the brain can be modified by behavior and environment not just in children not just in young adult but even in ordered people how does it sound car there are two possible mechanisms one is called compensation that there is neurogenesis and synaptogenesis talk about that in the next couple of slides this is based on a study of f. MRI functional magnetic resonance imaging in response to a memory task and there are three groups of people and this is the average of each of this group so this is a group of young people who did that as well this is the average of PEEP older people who did not do that as well this is the average of the older people who did that as well okay so those are the three groups what do we find in younger people whether it is a red yellow area those represent the parts of the brain that are activated during the stress so we see in young people who did the transfer that activation only on one side of the brain all people who did not do that as well activation on one side of the brain or people who did the transfer there’s a activation on both sides of the brain in other words in older age you need to have more neurons more circuits involved to do the same thing that you could do with fewer neurons and circuits in younger age it is like this when I was younger and stronger I could push a heavy cart with one hand as I get older it’s hard for me to push it but I if I use both hands I can still do it so that’s what is compensation that you need to compensate for the declining ability in one area by recruiting other parts of the brain that are still okay but you can still do them even more exciting is this work on neurogenesis in a progenesis which means that new neurons and new synapses can form in orders this was a study done by rusty gage who is at Salk and UCSD and number of other investigators are replicated this finding them various other species too in this study what they did was they took some old mice and randomly divided them into two groups one group of or mice was brought up in the usual cages in a typical cage for mice there are about 3/4 mice in a cage and they don’t have to do anything really they’re there 24/7 they’re given food today the water supply continuously there’s not much space to run around and so that’s the usual life for most of these lab mice they put other randomly selected group of or mice in kind of a Disneyland for mice so there are large opens field they could run around there were rollercoaster different colors they could choose different things so lots of excitement new things stimulation reserve after three months and three months is a long time mice mice live for between two and three years after three months they found that these mice had significantly increased the number of neurons and synapses the neurons had increased not in all parts of the brain for specific parts of the brain mainly the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus and periventricular area underground synapses which are really the junction between two neurons they seem to increase over wider parts of the brain that really is exciting it means that it is not only in children that there is development development can occur even in old age provided there is this kind of psychosocial stimulation now one might say this occurs in meister that occur in humans I’m just going to show you one story here this is a study that was published in Nature which is the number one journal in science this is a study in young adults but I think the same finding would apply to older people to maybe to a smaller extent what they did was they took some young adults and divided them into two groups none of these people was a juggler whatever just common average people so they’re analyzed them to two groups one group was brought how to juggle and they were told to try juggling as much as they could so that we juggle three balls at a time the other group was told not to try juggling otherwise there was no change in their life interactivity is nutrition exercise nothing change how to three months of juggling and they looked at their MRI this was an a regular MRI I’m not functional MRI regular structural MRI they found that after three months people who took all the significant increase in the gray matter of a part of the parietal lobe that is responsible for what is called perceptual anticipation you know in juggling what the skill lies is putting your hand where the ball is going to land and once you develop many times you know exactly where to stick your hand so the area of the brain that is responsible for that that’s the only part of the brain where there is increasing cremated none of the other areas were affected basically remarkable that something has cilia chuckling for three months can cause significant increase in the gray matter that you can actually major on a regular MRI scan we are not talking about measuring the number of neurons you’re just looking at a regular brain scan we don’t know what that means increasing clear matter I don’t think it means increasing number of neurons that’s less likely but it might mean increase the number of synapses it might mean increasing number of blood vessels but clearly it is something good and the main point is that structural change in the brain cannot occur with an activity like chuckling this isn’t some is even more exciting this is a study of psychotherapy for people with schizophrenia and in this study they found that psychotherapy again I’m not talking about any physical activity psychotherapy for one year produce a significant increase in the volume of gray matter in specific parts of the frontal temporal lobes so what that means is that our brain is not rigid even in old age it is capable of plastic changes under the right environmental social behavioral circumstances and that’s the neuroplasticity of Aging so what this is all me and what can we do because ultimately the goal for everybody is to age successfully and to be wise what are the strategies for successful aging unfortunately the most important strategy is calorie restriction and number of studies in every single species have shown that calorie restriction helps they’re not talking about becoming malnourished or undernourished but calorie restriction result physical exercise the second most evidence based strategy any kind of exercise is better than knock sir sighs Arabic exercise might be more useful but even an aerobic exercise or weightlifting muscle building exercise is also helpful non toxic environment cessation of smoking for example is useful optimizing stress not stopping stress that’s of course not possible but even if it were possible good to have a little stress so long as it is not overwhelming and then there are something called super foods that are rich in antioxidants things like broccoli cabbage spinach carrots blueberries vitamin E and curcumin which is an Indian spice that is thought to be a good antioxidant and useful in animals that is the human data are still unclear but these are all physical strategies what about emotional mental psychosocial strategies I’m sure you are all familiar with this number of marked products in a market called brain aging for example and they say if you use our product if you use is then your brain will continue to grow eat it just like that Baby Einstein and there’s no good evidence that any of them really work what walls is psychosocial stimulating environment where you keep yourself active positive attitude learning new skills and these are not just grandma’s 12 there are actually wall control studies that show that things like learning new skill can have positive impact on functioning the trick here is choosing something that is challenging but not too stressful you don’t want to do something that is too easy too simple too you always have been doing because then it really doesn’t challenge you but you also don’t want to do something that is too stressful learning all new language for example might be difficult for some people might be quite possible for some others so it depends on each person for the main point is that it is never too early not too late to start when does the aging start aging starts at conception physically aging probably started early as 20 when there is evidence of degeneration of the knee cartilage clearly there is aging that begins in middle age for several parts of the brain I’ll come back to that shortly but so I talked about strategies for improving cognitive emotional aging powerful strategies for improving wisdom you don’t know that yet but this is a very new publication just came out a couple of months a few months ago this is a large social experiment that has been going on in the country at several sites through the so called experience core very interesting program what they do is they in white some older adult volunteers who work in elementary public schools these are often schools in downtown for underprivileged kids and these volunteers have to agree to spend at least 15 hours a week for the entire school year and these volunteer they serve as mentors and tutors in areas like literacy development behavioral management skill and the goal is to improve the children’s academic success this is not a research experiment but it’s really sort of social networking strategy nonetheless the findings so far the qualitative studies suggest where such programs are not only successful in increasing academic success of the children but also in activating and promoting the wisdom of aging and really great example of how intergenerational activities can be mutually beneficial it helps the kids who often may not have parents later on grandparents and also have two older people who are often isolated they don’t feel useful and here so you meet each other’s needs and both our health we have a paper that’s coming out in the JAMA in the next couple of months and in this paper we argue that wisdom that increases with aging actually has an evolutionary significance the thinking is this in most species the average lifespan is the same as a maximum lifespan in humans the maximum lifespan is 120 years the oldest woman and record was a French woman who lived to 80 122 years at something and there have been a few other people reported on that age but most people I agree that the maximum lifespan 120 years what is the average lifespan the average lifespan in the US to raise 80 years it used to be only about 45 years hundred years ago now it has improved to 80 years this is a big gap between eighteen hundred and twenty even more important than the gap is the period of aging the aging human aging begins at the very latest in middle age 45 50 so and what happens in aging typically the changes are there is degeneration deterioration this is this disability so if human beings are supposed to start aging at 4550 with progressive degeneration deterioration decline how can we be expected to live up 220 and I think we are born to live up 220 that was up that’s our speculation and this article that means something must happen to compensate for the losses associated with aging and we argued that that something is probably this term the wisdom prolly tries to compensate for those losses and how does it compensate by improving the judgment by improving emotional regulation by improving our response to stress so the things that are stressful that are bothersome at a younger age they no longer bother says much under and we take more pleasure in life we are more self contented which actually improves the lifespan now whether wisdom actually improves the lifespan that’s something to be studied yet and how is that wisdom facilitated because of neuroplasticity of Aging so if there is evidence that with greater psychosocial stimulation and physical stimulation her brain can continue to develop I think that’s very helpful because that would not only improve wisdom but that would secondarily help improve the lifespan and longevity we really need more research in this area I mentioned about the studies we have been doing those 3,000 seniors we have recently begun a new study called Sage stand for successful aging evaluation it is entirely funded by the spine Institute in this study we have 1,300 randomly selected adults in San Diego County between the ages of 50 and 100 we have completed phone interviews on all 1300 of them and now we also have surveys completed by most of them and the surveys include information not just on their health and behaviors like smoking drinking heating but also on wisdom resilience optimism their attitudes in addition we collected saliva samples and we extract DNA so we can do some genetic studies on these people and then our goal is to bring some of these people in for getting some brain imaging cognitive testing and various other things done this is one of the examples of the studies for which we appreciate the community support because these are the studies that a nice to them fund not at this level once we start collecting pilot data then it’ll be supported but this stage it’s really predominantly the community support that health and our plan is to follow these people for as long of all time as we can there have been similar studies in the past but they focus mostly on physical health and physical diseases the unique feature of our study would be to focus on things like optimism resilience wisdom and their contribution to well being and health so this my last slide so in summary they said the basic concept of wisdom has remained remarkably similar across temporal and geographic boundaries across thousands of years and across tens of thousands of miles wisdom is a complex human trait with a neurobiological basis some people think that with it’s just a convenient name for grouping some desirable place I don’t think that’s quite true I think it is a specific trade just like resilience and optimism these are things that biological researchers in the past have ignored but I think now emerging evidence that it is actually print based complex trait successful aging with increase in wisdom may have evolutionary significance at the same time we really need methodological a rigorous empirical research one thing that has been lacking in this area is the kind of empirical research that is needed we need exact definitions we need appropriate measurement tools we need large populations to study and we should look at psychobiological as well as social markers of this domination so let me stop here and thank you for your attention you you..
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