Saturday, March 07, 2020 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
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 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.
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 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 has been recognized by numerous awards, and he was listed as one of The Princeton Review’s “Best 300 Professors in the United States.”
Sara Mednick / University of California Irvine
Sleep is critical for our brains and bodies, from decreasing risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease to bolstering our memory and emotional well-being. Sleep changes across the lifespan, from childhood to adolescence, adulthood to older adulthood. How can we maintain our top level of performance and health through all these fluctuations in our sleep? Dr. Mednick is an expert in sleep and cognition and will explain the moving target of sleep across the ages and its impact on mental and physical health and well-being. She will help people understand how to best combat these changes and work with them to benefit our lives. She will give tips on how to sleep better, including how to engineer the perfect nap! Along with learning how to use sleep to heighten creativity, productivity, memory and emotional well-being, older adults concerned with cognitive decline can learn about the role of sleep in this process and how to best regain control of sleep in order to bolster their brains and memory processes.
Sara Mednick is Associate Professor in the Department of Cognitive Sciences at the University of California, Irvine and author of the book, “Take a Nap! Change your Life.” Her research investigates how sleep supports cognition and discovers ways of boosting cognition via napping, brain stimulation, and pharmacology. Her work has been continuously federally funded, and she was awarded the Office Naval Research Young Investigator Award in 2015. Her research findings have been published in such leading scientific journals as Nature Neuroscience and The Proceedings from the National Academy of Science, and covered by all major media outlets.