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The Aging Brain

A neuroscientist and award-winning professor takes you down to the molecular level of the brain to show you what you can do to prolong your health and keep your mind sharp.
The Aging Brain is rated 4.6 out of 5 by 250.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Clearly explained Dr.Polk clearly explains multiple complex scientific research areas. He gives excellent advice to change one's lifestyle to possibly live longer, but to definitely live a better quality of older age.
Date published: 2024-04-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is a fantastic course! I have taken about 10 courses so far, and this is the best in every way. The instructor speaks clearly and intelligently about subject matter that might otherwise be dull and confusing. He has a warm and personable way of presenting the information. He’s the first instructor whose manner doesn’t annoy halfway thru the course!
Date published: 2024-03-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from wanted more Prof Polk is clear & very informative. Enjoyed his course - actually wanted more. I felt that i learned a lot.
Date published: 2023-07-18
Rated 2 out of 5 by from The Aging Brain I've listened to 5 lectures and while Prof Polk is a good speaker, I'm dissapointed. I also just finished your Chess course and expected a video as well as a lecture. Since this is a complicated subject, and that I'm a visual learner, had I known this was only lecture I would not have purchased it. I often recomend G.C.'s to others, and have purchased several over the years, this one I would not.
Date published: 2023-05-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Informative As a person in an Alzheimer's Disease family, I wanted to learn more about this enemy. The format and approach were at an appropriate level for a non-clinician, while providing a wealth of information.
Date published: 2023-02-27
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not what I expected This is not at all what I expected. So far, I already knew the information in the first two videos.
Date published: 2023-02-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Science made simple Anybody who can get me to understand anything scientific must have exceptional teaching skills. Dr. Polk ticks all my boxes.
Date published: 2022-09-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Visually blurred. Some (NOT ALL) episodes are visually blurred. Others are fine. I got a lot out of it, and do recommend it.
Date published: 2022-06-12
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Delve into the latest neuroscientific research with 12 fascinating lectures that give you a deep understanding of what happens to the brain over time. Cutting-edge science comes to life as you go down to the cellular level of the brain to discover why certain brain functions decline-and which functions stay stable or even improve-and learn what you can do to prolong your health and keep your mind sharp.


Thad A. Polk

Every aspect of our mental life is controlled by the brain. So if we ever hope to understand the human mind, and how it's affected by aging, by disease, and by drugs, then we need to develop a better understanding of the brain and the neural mechanisms that underlie cognition.


University of Michigan

Thad A. Polk is the Samuel D. Epstein Collegiate Professor of Psychology and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan. He earned an interdisciplinary PhD in Computer Science and Psychology from Carnegie Mellon University and received postdoctoral training in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania. His teaching has been recognized by numerous awards, and he was named to The Princeton Review’s list of the Best 300 Professors in the United States.

By This Professor

Shocking Psychological Studies and the Lessons They Teach
Introduction to Cognitive Science
The Addictive Brain
The Aging Brain
The Learning Brain
The Aging Brain


The Aging Mind: What Changes?

01: The Aging Mind: What Changes?

Aging affects us all, and it's important to know how our cognitive functions change over our lives. The course opens with an examination of how fluid processing skills-such as episodic and working memory-tend to decline over time, whereas crystallized intelligence (how-to skills and accumulated knowledge) remains stable or even improves.

36 min
Why Don't We Live Forever?

02: Why Don't We Live Forever?

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 our cells can make.

33 min
Is Aging a Disease?

03: Is Aging a Disease?

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.

29 min
Aging and Brain Structure

04: Aging and Brain Structure

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 decline. Tour the anatomy of the brain and see age-related differenc...

28 min
Aging and Brain Function

05: Aging and Brain Function

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 for these changes.

31 min
Emotional Aging

06: Emotional Aging

Many studies agree that people older than 65 typically experience a greater sense of emotional well-being than younger people. 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 you...

30 min
Strategies for an Aging Memory

07: Strategies for an Aging Memory

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 improve your own memory.

31 min
Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease

08: Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease

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 research.

32 min
Parkinson's Disease and Stroke

09: Parkinson's Disease and Stroke

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 your risk.

32 min
Aging Well: Staying Active

10: Aging Well: Staying Active

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 sharp and the spirit young.

34 min
Aging Well: Diet and Stress

11: Aging Well: Diet and Stress

Shift your attention from the effects of physical and social activity to the impact of diet and stress. Explore the benefits of eating 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 stress, trace the damage it creates throughout the body, and learn how to reduce stress...

30 min
The Science of Immortality

12: The Science of Immortality

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.

35 min