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A Day of Health and Wellness with The Kansas City Star

March 07, 2020 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

schedule

10:00 AM - 11:20 AM
The Power of Mindset: A Prescription for Mind and Body

Catherine Sanderson / Amherst College

We've all heard about the placebo effect – which explains why name-brand medicines work better than the generic stuff, even when they share the exact same ingredients. But did you know that the way we think about ourselves and the world around us dramatically impacts our health, how fast or slow we age, and even how long we live? In fact, people with a positive mindset about aging live on average 7.5 years longer than those without. That might sound alarming to those of us who struggle to see the bright side, but the good news is we can make surprisingly simple changes or small shifts to how we think, feel, and act that will really pay off.

In this talk, Dr. Catherine Sanderson breaks down the science of thought and shows how our mindset—or thought pattern—exerts a substantial influence on physical health. Most importantly, this talk ends by giving specific strategies we can all use, no matter our natural tendency, to make minor tweaks in our thoughts and behaviors that will improve the quality and length of our lives.

Catherine Sanderson / Amherst College
Catherine Sanderson is the Manwell Family Professor of Psychology at Amherst College. Her research has received grant funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Health. Professor Sanderson has published over 25 journal articles and book chapters in addition to four college textbooks, a high school health textbook, and a popular press book on parenting. In 2012, she was named one of the country's top 300 professors by the Princeton Review. Professor Sanderson speaks regularly for public and corporate audiences on topics such as the science of happiness, the power of emotional intelligence, the mind-body connection, and the psychology of good and evil. More information on these talks is available on her website: SandersonSpeaking.com.

11:40 AM - 1:00 PM
Understanding Memory: How it Works and How to Improve it

Thad Polk / University of Michigan

Human beings store away huge quantities of information in memory. We remember countless facts about the world (e.g., birds have wings, 2+2=4, there are 26 letters in the alphabet) as well specific information about our own lives (e.g., what we had for lunch, where we went for our last vacation, our first kiss). We remember how to tie our shoes, how to ride a bike, and how to write our signature. Most of the time we retrieve information from this enormous database of memory so efficiently and effectively that we don't even give it a second thought. But how does that work? How do we store information away into memory and then retrieve exactly the information we need minutes, days, or even years later? Conversely, why do we so often forget someone's name or where we put our keys? And perhaps most importantly, is there anything we can do to improve our memory and keep it sharp?

This course will address all those questions and many more. We'll dive into the psychological and neural mechanisms that underlie our amazing ability to remember. We'll discover that we're actually equipped with multiple different memory systems that are specialized for remembering different types of information. We'll learn about factors that can have a dramatic impact on memory, such as motivation, emotion, and aging. And we'll also discuss ways to maximize our memory by applying techniques that have been scientifically demonstrated to improve retention. After taking this course, you'll have a new appreciation for the extremely powerful memory mechanisms in your own brain and a better understanding of how to use them most effectively.

Thad Polk / University of Michigan
Thad Polk is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan. His research combines functional imaging of the human brain with computational modeling and behavioral methods to investigate the neural architecture underlying cognition. Professor Polk regularly collaborates with scientists at the University of Texas at Dallas and at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, where he is a frequent visiting scientist. His teaching at the University of Michigan has been recognized by numerous awards, and he was listed as one of The Princeton Review's Best 300 Professors in the United States.

2:30 PM - 4:00 PM
The Art of Aging: What Everyone Should Know About Getting Older

Brian Carpenter / Washington University in St. Louis

No matter how old you are, you're aging. You started aging from the moment you were born, and you'll continue aging until the moment you die. That's the brutal, universal fact. But people age differently, as you’ve noticed if you've looked around and compared yourself to your peers. Are you aging better than they are? Worse than they are? In what ways and for what reasons?

In this class we’ll review what biological, psychological, and social research has taught us about growing older. Along the way, we'll discuss what's common with aging (everybody shrinks a little), what's not normal (Alzheimer's is a disease not everyone gets), and key components of successful aging (friends and family are important, but perhaps in different ways). The trajectory of aging gets shaped very early in life, but there are powerful forces that guide it along the way, and steps you can take to maximize your later years.

Brian Carpenter / Washington University in St. Louis
Brian Carpenter is a professor of psychology at Washington University in St. Louis. His primary research interests focus on relationships among older adults, their family members, and their health care providers. In particular, he studies communication among those three parties, with an eye toward developing interventions to improve knowledge and enhance health literacy. Dr. Carpenter teaches courses at the undergraduate and graduate level that address the psychological needs of older adults, with a particular emphasis on end-of-life care and dementia, and has received the David Hadas Teaching Award at Wash U.

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