Aging paragons

We all know a few older-aged paragons, individuals who are still storming through life in their 9th or 10th or 11th decade. I was delighted to read two articles in the New York Times last week that featured two such individuals who have crossed my own path in life. David Perlman is a 90-year-old science…

Brain plasticity and criminal behavior; part 4

A young adult American – usually male – has committed a crime. He stands in the dock. As we sit as courtroom observers, what, in the overwhelming majority of the cases, do we see before us? As we’ve discussed in earlier blogs: 1. We see a young man who has failed at school. There is…

Perception, illusion, prediction, magic, autism

There is an enjoyable article in the current issue of Wired in which the magician Teller (the silent, smaller and more sneaky chap on the Penn and Teller team) engages in a conversation with the science writer Jonah Lehrer about the neurological bases of magic. Reading this article led me to a review on this…

Genetics explanations for neurological & psychiatric illness

There is an interesting set of commentaries in the current issue of The New England Journal of Medicine in which scientists reflect on why genetic screening strategies have had such limited value, for explaining the risks of onset of the great human diseases and disorders. There has been a longstanding presumption (most strongly held by…

Brain Plasticity and Culture

In a recent book “Brain and Culture” (MIT Press), Dr. Bruce Wexler, a Yale psychiatrist, considers some of the many implications of brain plasticity research for cultural progressions. One special point of his book is the way that our brains specialize, through our plasticity mechanisms, to create a model of the culture (our world) into…

Brain plasticity and the law

My wife Diane and I just returned from a working visit to Japan (I was an instructor in a “Spring Symposium” in Kyoto, attended by top Japanese neuroscience doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows). On this trip, we took an extra day to stay overnight in a Buddhist monastery on Mount Koyosan, a sacred site deep…

Moderate drinking and longevity

I have earlier described evidence from a large British study that identified a positive impact of the moderate consumption of alcohol on longevity — in their case, apparently adding about 1.5 years to a lifespan. Now, from my own university comes another large, careful study that supports this conclusion, while doing a little better job…

The IMPACT study; a gold-standard trial that shows that Posit Science’s ‘Brain Fitness Program’ works as advertised.

A controlled scientific study (Improvement in Memory with Plasticity-based Adaptive Cognitive Training; the IMPACT Study) conducted in 487 healthy adults over the age of 65 has recorded substantial improvements in cognitive abilities resulting from training with Posit Science’s Brain Fitness Program. The study, now published online and appearing in print in the April issue of…

A holiday present

The following comments were written by Meghan Lil, who I knew as a darling, sassy little lass, 8 or 9 years old at the time of our first meeting. In my mind’s eye, she’s still a kid. In reality, she’s a beautiful, intelligent young woman. In her words: “When I was in first grade, I…