The Aging Mind: What Changes?
Episode 1 of The Aging Brain

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The Aging Brain
We're all getting older every day, and scientific research has shown that starting in our twenties, some brain functions begin a linear decline. But is old age all doom and gloom? Not at all! While it's true that some functions in the aging brain decline, neuroscientists have discovered that many…
Emotional Aging
Episode 6 of The Aging Brain
See what scientific research shows about our evolving emotional landscape, and why older people tend to be happier than the young. Depression can still be a problem for older adults, though--consider the most common causes, discover how symptoms may differ from those of younger people, and learn to match the…
Strategies for an Aging Memory
Episode 7 of The Aging Brain
How does memory work? Can aspects of it be improved? This eye-opening lecture offers a test of two different strategies for memorization: sheer repetition on the one hand, and visual-spatial storytelling on the other. Once you understand how memory works, you'll investigate four key principles that you can apply to…
Is Aging a Disease?
Episode 3 of The Aging Brain
Scientists debate whether aging is actually a disease, but the effects of aging indisputably resemble the symptoms of a disease. Here, examine three major mechanisms behind these effects: energy consumption, free radicals, and damage to our DNA. Then consider whether there could be a way to "cure" these effects.
Aging and Brain Structure
Episode 4 of The Aging Brain
See how the cognitive changes of aging relate to the biological changes discussed in the previous lectures. It turns out that regions of the brain associated with processing speed, executive function, and episodic memory are more susceptible to aging, which may explain why these cognitive functions are particularly susceptible to…
Aging and Brain Function
Episode 5 of The Aging Brain
Turn from the brain's structure to its activity. After reviewing how we study brain function via fMRI, Professor Polk shows you how brain activity changes as we age--and how these changes impact our memory, our ability to multitask, and more. Then, learn some good news about how the brain compensates…
Aging Well: Staying Active
Episode 10 of The Aging Brain
Get ready for good news to help stave off mental decline! Here, you'll analyze the effects of physical, social, and mental activity on the aging brain. Ample evidence from communities with longer-than-average lifespans shows that getting plenty of exercise and maintaining a vibrant social life can help keep the mind…
Aging Well: Diet and Stress
Episode 11 of The Aging Brain
Shift your attention from the effects of physical and social activity to the impact of diet and stress. Explore the benefits of a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids and low in processed foods--like the Mediterranean, DASH, and MIND diets. Then, delve into the physiological effects of…
Why Don’t We Live Forever?
Episode 2 of The Aging Brain
Take a look at how our genes influence the aging process. Professor Polk explores several theories for why we age and eventually die, then delves into the genetic mechanisms involved in aging. Find out how replication damages cells and why there is a limit to the number of healthy replications…
Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
Episode 8 of The Aging Brain
Find out what medical scientists mean by "dementia," which results from disease and is not a normal part of healthy aging. The most prominent disease that causes dementia is Alzheimer's, so Professor Polk walks you through its history, symptoms, and palliative treatments, as well as the current state of Alzheimer's…
Parkinson’s Disease and Stroke
Episode 9 of The Aging Brain
Continue your study of age-related brain diseases with an investigation of Parkinson's disease and stroke. What are they? How do they affect a person's behavior? And can they be treated? Examinations of these questions and more take you through neurochemistry, stem cell research, and strategies you can use to reduce…
The Science of Immortality
Episode 12 of The Aging Brain
Is it possible to live forever? Would we even want to? Conclude the course with a look at cutting-edge research involving gene therapy and stem cells that may help us mitigate or even "cure" the effects of aging. The science is still emerging, but the possibilities are fascinating.