Although the effects of aging on the brain remain mysterious, a growing body of evidence suggests that a variety of lifestyle factors – diet, stress, exercise and intellectual stimulation among them – may hasten or slow changes in mental ability.
Four of the nation’s leading researchers on the subject, who have written almost 600 journal articles, will share their expertise during the 2010 Kendon Smith Lecture Series April 30-May 1 in the Sullivan Science Building.
Sponsored by the Department of Psychology, the lecture series – “Maintaining Mental Fitness: Influences and Interventions” – will be held in Mead Auditorium. For more information about the lectures, all free, call 4-5013.
“Our understanding of aging and mental fitness is growing by leaps and bounds, as is the population of older adults,” said Dr. Dayna Touron, an assistant professor of psychology and the organizer of this year’s lecture series. “We picked this topic because extending the healthy life span is of intense interest to the public as well as to researchers across the UNCG campus.”
The U.S. population 65 and older is expected top 72 million by 2030, more than double what it was in 2000.
Free parking for the lectures will be available in the McIver Street Parking Deck.
Friday, April 30:
• 1:30-1:45 p.m. – Opening Remarks
• 1:45-3 p.m. – “Brain Aging, its Modifiers and Cognitive Correlates,” Dr. Naftali Raz, professor of gerontology and psychology at the Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State University. He studies the relationship between cognitive performance in healthy adults and physical changes in the brain, measured by noninvasive techniques such as MRI.
• 3:15-4:30 p.m. – “The Adaptive Brain: Responding to the Challenge of Cognitive Aging,” Dr. Denise Park, director of the Center for Vital Longevity at the University of Texas at Dallas. Her research is aimed at understanding how the mind changes and adapts as individuals age, including whether stimulation can maintain the health of aging brains.
Saturday, May 1:
• 9-9:30 a.m. – Continental Breakfast
• 9:30-10:45 a.m. – “The Role of Culture in Developing and Maintaining Mental Fitness,” Dr. Neil Charness, William G. Chase Professor of Psychology at Florida State University. His research interests include aging and technology use; development and maintenance of expertise across the life span; sign comprehension by aging pedestrians and drivers; and individual and environmental determinants of work performance.
• 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. – “Enhancing Cognition and Brain Health through Physical Activity and Cognitive Training,” Dr. Arthur Kramer, professor of human perception and performance at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Cognitive neuroscience, cognitive and brain plasticity, aging and attention are among his fields of expertise.
• 12:15-12:45 p.m. – General Discussion and Questions
The Kendon Smith Lecture Series has been bringing renowned experts to UNCG since 1984, when Janice Stewart Baucom of Concord established an endowment to honor Dr. Kendon Smith. Smith served as head of the psychology department from 1954-67 and held an Alumni Professorship from 1969 until his retirement in 1983. He died in 2002.
Visual: Dr. Denise Park, in back.