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Successful Aging: A Neuroscientist Explores the Power and Potential of Our Lives

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INSTANT TOP 10 BESTSELLER *New York Times *USAToday *Washington Post *LA Times "Debunks the idea that aging inevitably brings infirmity and unhappiness and instead offers a trove of practical, evidence-based guidance for living longer and better." --Daniel H. Pink, author of When and Drive SUCCESSFUL AGING delivers powerful insights: - Debunking the myth that memory INSTANT TOP 10 BESTSELLER *New York Times *USAToday *Washington Post *LA Times "Debunks the idea that aging inevitably brings infirmity and unhappiness and instead offers a trove of practical, evidence-based guidance for living longer and better." --Daniel H. Pink, author of When and Drive SUCCESSFUL AGING delivers powerful insights: - Debunking the myth that memory always declines with age - Confirming that "health span"--not "life span"--is what matters - Proving that sixty-plus years is a unique and newly recognized developmental stage - Recommending that people look forward to joy, as reminiscing doesn't promote health Levitin looks at the science behind what we all can learn from those who age joyously, as well as how to adapt our culture to take full advantage of older people's wisdom and experience. Throughout his exploration of what aging really means, using research from developmental neuroscience and the psychology of individual differences, Levitin reveals resilience strategies and practical, cognitive enhancing tricks everyone should do as they age. Successful Aging inspires a powerful new approach to how readers think about our final decades, and it will revolutionize the way we plan for old age as individuals, family members, and citizens within a society where the average life expectancy continues to rise.


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INSTANT TOP 10 BESTSELLER *New York Times *USAToday *Washington Post *LA Times "Debunks the idea that aging inevitably brings infirmity and unhappiness and instead offers a trove of practical, evidence-based guidance for living longer and better." --Daniel H. Pink, author of When and Drive SUCCESSFUL AGING delivers powerful insights: - Debunking the myth that memory INSTANT TOP 10 BESTSELLER *New York Times *USAToday *Washington Post *LA Times "Debunks the idea that aging inevitably brings infirmity and unhappiness and instead offers a trove of practical, evidence-based guidance for living longer and better." --Daniel H. Pink, author of When and Drive SUCCESSFUL AGING delivers powerful insights: - Debunking the myth that memory always declines with age - Confirming that "health span"--not "life span"--is what matters - Proving that sixty-plus years is a unique and newly recognized developmental stage - Recommending that people look forward to joy, as reminiscing doesn't promote health Levitin looks at the science behind what we all can learn from those who age joyously, as well as how to adapt our culture to take full advantage of older people's wisdom and experience. Throughout his exploration of what aging really means, using research from developmental neuroscience and the psychology of individual differences, Levitin reveals resilience strategies and practical, cognitive enhancing tricks everyone should do as they age. Successful Aging inspires a powerful new approach to how readers think about our final decades, and it will revolutionize the way we plan for old age as individuals, family members, and citizens within a society where the average life expectancy continues to rise.

30 review for Successful Aging: A Neuroscientist Explores the Power and Potential of Our Lives

  1. 4 out of 5

    Clif Hostetler

    This book combines knowledge from (1) developmental neuroscience and (2) individual differences (personality) psychology to help the reader understand the aging brain and the choices that can be made to maximize the chances of living long, happy, and productive lives. In the book's Introduction the author, Daniel J Levitin, claims that no other book intended for a popular audience has been written that covers the intersection of these two scientific fields. The book is divided into three parts, This book combines knowledge from (1) developmental neuroscience and (2) individual differences (personality) psychology to help the reader understand the aging brain and the choices that can be made to maximize the chances of living long, happy, and productive lives. In the book's Introduction the author, Daniel J Levitin, claims that no other book intended for a popular audience has been written that covers the intersection of these two scientific fields. The book is divided into three parts, (1) The Continually Developing Brain, (2) The Choices We Make, and (3) The New Longevity. Part One focuses on the ability of both the brain and personality to experience change, both good and bad. Part Two explores the ways the choices made made by individuals can influence health. Part Three explores new drugs and technology that have potential for prolonging health span portion of the life span. This is a long book that seems to go on forever. There are overlapping subjects in the three parts so some material is referenced more than once. It’s written in a conversational tone with occasion mention of curious serendipitous phenomena, which are probably not appreciated by academic readers because I suspect they’re not all verified facts. Aging has its down side—brain cell atrophy, DNA sequence damage, compromised cellular repair functions, and neurochemical and hormonal changes. But it’s not all bad. Among the chemical changes in the aging brain are a tendency toward understanding, forgiveness, tolerance, and acceptance. As indicated in the following excerpt, the older years are often experienced as the happiest. When older people look back on their lives and are asked to pinpoint the age at which they were happiest, what do you suppose they say? Maybe age eight, when they had few cares? Maybe their teenage years because of all the activity and the discovery of sex? Maybe their college years, or the first years of starting a family? Wrong. The age that comes up most often as the happiest time of one’s life is eighty-two! The goal of this book is to help raise that number by ten or twenty years. Science says it can be done. And I’m with science.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Fincher

    I'm too dumb for this.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Scott Wozniak

    This is the best book on aging I've read yet. It covers everything from the social and emotional issues of aging to the neuroscience and even diet and supplements. The author does a great job giving you real science in a way that doesn't feel overcomplicated. Some of this confirmed things I've read before: -Your friendships matter tremendously and you have to keep investing in relationships or they will naturally fade as you and your friends age. -When designing your final chapters of life, think This is the best book on aging I've read yet. It covers everything from the social and emotional issues of aging to the neuroscience and even diet and supplements. The author does a great job giving you real science in a way that doesn't feel overcomplicated. Some of this confirmed things I've read before: -Your friendships matter tremendously and you have to keep investing in relationships or they will naturally fade as you and your friends age. -When designing your final chapters of life, think about the people you want to be with more than the places you want to be/things you want to do. -Don't retire from meaningful work. You can slow down or do a different activity, but to stop doing things that matter is to invite decline and despair. -Much of the physical decline we say is aging is really just decades of being out of shape. Stay active and push yourself. You might be surprised at what you can do (and how many aches and pains go away when you're back in shape.) -Sleep is the most important health factor--and it's harder to sleep well when you're old. That doesn't mean give up. It means get more diligent to protect your sleep quality and quantity. And there were some things that busted a lot of the myths I've read: -We still don't don't what diets are best. Nutrition is so hard to pin down (hard to isolate it from other factors and it's so different person to person). So most of the supplements we are told to take have no scientific evidence to support them. This includes popular things like Omega 3 fatty acids (we need them, but so far taking pills doesn't actually show any improvements in our blood stream) and popular diets who remove whole categories of food (from vegetarian to Atkins). The key is variety of food types (except processed/fried foods, of course) and limits on the quantity. -We still don't know how to avoid Alzheimer's and dementia. -All the studies of communities of people who live 100+ are massively scientifically flawed. They've been discussed and dismissed by all the scientists in the field. They're anecdotal stories by non-scientists. There are just too few people and the variables are so complex that there's no real patterns that hold up under scrutiny. So beware of them. -Your genes account for only 7% of your longevity (except for those cases when you have a congenital disease, such as a faulty heart valve). It's mostly how you live. A few bonus ideas: -We focus a lot on the diseases that keep us from dying (cancer, heart attack, etc.). But we don't put much attention or effort on the diseases that ruin our life enjoyment (diabetes, back injury, etc.). Don't just try not to do. Plan for a life that allows for pain-free mobility. -Purpose trumps all else. Have a plan for how you can keep learning and make a difference in the world.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lou

    There are many books on the market that aim to document how to grow old in a healthy and life-affirming manner, however, this is one of the few written and comprehensively researched by a respected expert in the clinical area of neuroscience. The facts and statistics mentioned throughout are proven and so can be relied upon as methods to implement to try to ensure you live a long and happy life. The Changing Mind is a thought-provoking and eye-opening account of what happens to our brain during There are many books on the market that aim to document how to grow old in a healthy and life-affirming manner, however, this is one of the few written and comprehensively researched by a respected expert in the clinical area of neuroscience. The facts and statistics mentioned throughout are proven and so can be relied upon as methods to implement to try to ensure you live a long and happy life. The Changing Mind is a thought-provoking and eye-opening account of what happens to our brain during the ageing process and it turns on its head some of the misconceptions we all appear to have been told about how deterioration, as we age, is inevitable when this is quite far from the reality of the situation. Dr Levitin hits you with inspiring and optimistic information and I feel there are so, so many people who would gain new knowledge and reinvigoration from what they read between these pages, just as I did. I know one of the most prominent brain diseases of our time, Alzheimer's, is one of the biggest fears many people face when ruminating on cognition and how to keep the memories we have so beautifully collected alive, therefore I am pleased there are plenty of tips to keep the mind sharp and everything intact in this book. That being said, we all roll the dice on such matters and at the end of the day you may be lucky or you may not. Levitin charts the brains development from birth right through to elder years and unlike other nonfiction titles of this nature, I found this both eminently readable and absolutely fascinating. The case studies used to illustrate points made throughout the book were all interesting and if I’m honest I could’ve read another couple of hundred pages. If you are looking for an easy, non-challenging read then this probably isn’t it but if you genuinely want to learn more about ageing and what we can do to age well this is a must-read. Many thanks to Penguin Life for an ARC.

  5. 4 out of 5

    혜정

    Iam seventy one years old woman. But I'd like to read new novels and listen to good music so that I want to live by my self. When I have retired from professor five years ago I had depressed losted my punctual work. In my country many people thought as an unavailable person from retired their work. I have a complaint these conception. So I start to study regular lesson at open college and I always want to know how do I live my more older age. I hope to meet and practice my life through Iam seventy one years old woman. But I'd like to read new novels and listen to good music so that I want to live by my self. When I have retired from professor five years ago I had depressed losted my punctual work. In my country many people thought as an unavailable person from retired their work. I have a complaint these conception. So I start to study regular lesson at open college and I always want to know how do I live my more older age. I hope to meet and practice my life through Successful aging. I'm going to decide to read this book. Thank you

  6. 5 out of 5

    Roxanne

    I thought this was a heavy book about how to age well. It is pretty scientific but it has good information.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Julius Adams

    A lot of science to get to the same results people have known for a long time. Cicero said it all in his treatise in OLD AGE, summarized below. Same findings, just without the science. So what is new here? Dont waste your money.... Below is a link to an excellent summary written by Dr. John Messerly on his web site, where you can read his entire commentary concerning Ciceros treatise. Thank you to him, it proves this book is not new or necessary in its philosophical thinking. A lot of science to get to the same results people have known for a long time. Cicero said it all in his treatise in OLD AGE, summarized below. Same findings, just without the science. So what is new here? Don’t waste your money.... Below is a link to an excellent summary written by Dr. John Messerly on his web site, where you can read his entire commentary concerning Ciceros treatise. Thank you to him, it proves this book is not new or necessary in its philosophical thinking. https://reasonandmeaning.com/2017/08/...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Terri

    This book sounded interesting but it was way too detailed for me to enjoy. Felt more like a textbook. Id recommend cliff notes for this one. This book sounded interesting but it was way too detailed for me to enjoy. Felt more like a textbook. I’d recommend cliff notes for this one.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Karen Ng

    The book is more technical and scientific than I expected. I find some chapters too overwhelming and tedious even though I was a scientist before retirement; read hundreds of books on neuro/ cognitive science after my brain bleed 3 years ago. The author's researches were very thorough and interesting, but attempting to educate an average reader with function and anatomy of the human brain, personality traits, memory categorization, cognitive science, as well as the effects of genes, environment, The book is more technical and scientific than I expected. I find some chapters too overwhelming and tedious even though I was a scientist before retirement; read hundreds of books on neuro/ cognitive science after my brain bleed 3 years ago. The author's researches were very thorough and interesting, but attempting to educate an average reader with function and anatomy of the human brain, personality traits, memory categorization, cognitive science, as well as the effects of genes, environment, curiosity and parenting on sucessful aging is a bit too much to jam into one book. I actually was somewhat relieved when I finished.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dave Mills

    True confession: I really didn't finish this book. In fact, I only made it to page 67. Wanna know why? Of course you don't, but I'll tell you nevertheless. Skip 400 pages of shit, go to page 401 (hardcopy edition) and read "APPENDIX REJUVENATING YOUR BRAIN." That'll give you an idea of just how bad this book is. Alas, in my "declining," addled old age, I tend to fall for books that might give me the magic elixir, the location of the fountain of youth, the Philosopher's Stone, potions, diets, True confession: I really didn't finish this book. In fact, I only made it to page 67. Wanna know why? Of course you don't, but I'll tell you nevertheless. Skip 400 pages of shit, go to page 401 (hardcopy edition) and read "APPENDIX REJUVENATING YOUR BRAIN." That'll give you an idea of just how bad this book is. Alas, in my "declining," addled old age, I tend to fall for books that might give me the magic elixir, the location of the fountain of youth, the Philosopher's Stone, potions, diets, chemicals, brain games, and other gimmicks that (the books usually claim) will increase my longevity and improve my downhill years. None of them will, of course. They're all crap, really. Here's a better idea: read Barbara Ehrenreich's "Natural Causes." She's a great writer, funny, clever, bright, witty. And her chapter 10, "Successful Aging,"of nineteen pages is infinitely better than the 400 pages of Levitin's junk. Enjoy these last years. Carpe diem!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Taylor Ahlstrom

    Daniel Levitins Successful Aging is a relatable and expertly written guide to the scientific, social, and emotional process of aging, buoyed by the latest research into what we can do to increase not just our lifespan, but our healthspanthose years when we are still living healthy, active lives, not plagued by chronic pain and disease or tubed up in a hospital bed. As a neurologist, the book is heavily scientific, but Levitin does a commendable job of making complicated neural behaviors make Daniel Levitin’s Successful Aging is a relatable and expertly written guide to the scientific, social, and emotional process of aging, buoyed by the latest research into what we can do to increase not just our lifespan, but our healthspan—those years when we are still living healthy, active lives, not plagued by chronic pain and disease or tubed up in a hospital bed. As a neurologist, the book is heavily scientific, but Levitin does a commendable job of making complicated neural behaviors make sense to the layman. In addition to the science, the book is filled with stories of people he knows and those he interviewed who have stayed active, sharp, and remained in their careers well into their nineties. His point with these anecdotes is that we need to rethink aging and the elderly along with what we believe is possible after retirement. There is an undeniable stigma against the elderly in America that they are mostly useless and therefore oft forgotten. As to retirement, Levitin thinks we should get rid of it altogether. One of the main causes of cognitive decline in the elderly is not exercising those thinking muscles enough. As work also gives our lives meaning, there has been an increase in those who “unretire,” or rejoin the workforce after retirement. In addition to providing that meaning, work also keeps us active and social. Loneliness and inactivity are two significant causes of cognitive decline in the elderly. Loneliness is so serious a risk that Britain recently appointed a Minister of Loneliness just to address this problem in their increasingly-aged population. Much of the book—in between all the science—is written from the personal perspective of Levitin, who is now sixty-two years old and is perhaps just beginning to feel many of the effects of aging that his book dives into in some detail. Whether it’s just forgetting why he walked into the kitchen, or that bum knee that will never be the same again, the reader feels a personal connection to the author and his work. Also, as a professional musician, many of his stories relate to music and his performance, which adds an extra touch of personality to a book written by a neuroscientist that had the potential to be both dry and overly technical. Luckily, his book is neither of those things. One aspect of the book which deserves significant praise is the rigor with which Levitin investigates every possible claim or cure for aging. He informs the reader not only why certain medications work, but why others don’t, and is candid when modern medicine “simply doesn’t know why”—which is often the case when it comes to aging. The book contains over seventy-five pages of notes and resources, and the author claims to have reviewed around four thousand peer-reviewed papers to complete it. When a dietary or health claim mentions a paper or study with a low number of participants or one that was not peer-reviewed, he is quick to point that out. While some may find the science in the book unnecessarily technical or overbearing, many may find it a helpful backdrop to understand the why behind the advice. Sure, there isn’t a lot of groundbreaking advice here when everyone knows they should eat more vegetables and get better sleep. But understanding how social interaction keeps our brains functioning at a higher level and why a walk in the woods does far more benefit than a walk on a treadmill may help more Americans embrace the suggestions he offers. He doesn’t shame or discount the medicinal benefits of many modern treatments, but he also notes their side effects and shortcomings, and it seems after every potential medication he mentions, the holistic answer is rather the better answer. You may be able to take a pill to feel happier, or you could talk to a friend and work on your coping mechanisms. The brain is an incredibly adaptable organ, and the more we train it, the more it can do for us. While we may have figured out how certain drugs work in certain ways in the brain, there is still a lot we don’t know. At one point he refers to this as “looking for your keys under the streetlamp because it has the most light.” We are forced to experiment with the things we know the most about, because the other stuff just doesn’t make any sense yet. For every drug you put in your body, there are dozens or hundreds of interactions with every other system in your body, and each of those interactions are different for each and every person. Because of this, we can’t ever say one pill can cure this or that, but only that more people felt better than didn’t. In fact, for a treatment to gain FDA approval, it has to perform only 10 points better than a placebo—which is no treatment at all! Ultimately, the point is that our bodies are miraculous things, and the only treatments we have found that work for everyone are the simplest ones: more love, more companionship, more meaning in life, more exercise—both mental and physical—and of course, eating more plants. These give you the best chance for extending your healthy years on earth. And most of the other medication that’s out there might help manage some of the aches and pains that inevitably come along the way.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nina

    A few things I've read before and a few things I haven't. I really appreciated all the research that went into this and the honesty in how reliable different studies are (usually not very). I find neuroscience to be incredibly fascinating so I did not mind at all the science-heavy, a bit dense reading. It did take me a while to get through, but I stuck with it because it was so interesting. Yes, a lot of the suggestions seem common sense, but clearly we still NEED to hear this stuff since most A few things I've read before and a few things I haven't. I really appreciated all the research that went into this and the honesty in how reliable different studies are (usually not very). I find neuroscience to be incredibly fascinating so I did not mind at all the science-heavy, a bit dense reading. It did take me a while to get through, but I stuck with it because it was so interesting. Yes, a lot of the suggestions seem common sense, but clearly we still NEED to hear this stuff since most of us are NOT DOING IT! Anyway, also you certainly CAN skip to page 401 if you just want basic list of overarching themes, but I for one find it much more motivating to know WHY these are the practices you should have. The science behind it really makes it more meaningful to me. Anyone at any age can get something out of this (successful aging starts in childhood--don't mess up your kids!) so I highly recommend it, especially if you like learning about brains and having a positive but realistic outlook on later life.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Flynn

    There was a lot of science in this book, and I admit to skimming some of it. This had some interesting ideas and useful guidance but was not as pleasurable to read on the sentence level as it could have been. Still, worth it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    konami

    Some parts technical but overall great info and suggestions towards aging brains.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Amir

    Highly recommend this book to people of all ages. In my mid thirties my mind went kept going to my parents and older siblings while keeping in mind the habits I should be cultivating for the future.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    I'm rounding this up from a 2.5 because I rushed through it before it disappeared. This book is OK but I'm not sure the author ever found the correct balance between presenting the science to support his arguments and trying to reach the every-day person. I do think it was good to have several ideas on aging be reinforced with the background he offered.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Pat

    Science, old and new, applied to aging with a breezy, positive presentation by neuroscientist Levitin. 400 pages knocking down myths of aging, applying technical information, with practical examples as well as interviews with older people, some well known, stressing growth well into the sunset years. There are an additional 100 pages of notes/appendix/index making it a truly scholarly tome with gems to uncover. Encourages the COACH principle: curiosity, openness, associations, conscientiousness Science, old and new, applied to aging with a breezy, positive presentation by neuroscientist Levitin. 400 pages knocking down myths of aging, applying technical information, with practical examples as well as interviews with older people, some well known, stressing growth well into the sunset years. There are an additional 100 pages of notes/appendix/index making it a truly scholarly tome with gems to uncover. Encourages the COACH principle: curiosity, openness, associations, conscientiousness and healthy practices. Well worth the read!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Robert Yokoyama

    I want to age successfully, and that is why I read this book. I can increase the neuroplasticity in my brain by learning some new things. Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to change and adapt over time, I can increase neuroplasticity by learning to speak a new language. I grew up speaking Chinese, but I am hopeful that I can expand my vocabulary by taking lessons. I can also increase the neuroplasticity in my brain by performing in a theater. Learning how to memorize lines and I want to age successfully, and that is why I read this book. I can increase the neuroplasticity in my brain by learning some new things. Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to change and adapt over time, I can increase neuroplasticity by learning to speak a new language. I grew up speaking Chinese, but I am hopeful that I can expand my vocabulary by taking lessons. I can also increase the neuroplasticity in my brain by performing in a theater. Learning how to memorize lines and movements can make the neural connections in my brain strong. I am proud of the fact that I have been working for over twenty years, and I am glad that the author says meaningful work is critical to longevity too. I will continue working, but I have been involved in pedestrian safety for people in wheelchair like myself. This secondary job sharpens my spatial, writing and speaking skills. This also increases the neuroplasticity in my brain and keeps me young. I learned that high blood pressure can lead to hearing loss because the hair cells in my ear can stiffen. This piece of news is a wake up call for me because my blood pressure is slightly elevated. I will strive to keep walking and exercising to keep my blood pressure in check though. I learned that exercise can improve my memory and creativity, so I have more incentive to exercise now. I like the information about friends in this book. Having a social network of friends improve my mood and keep my brain healthy. I have friends, but I don't see them that often. I am hopeful that I can make new friends to listen to music with and hang out with in person. I struggle to get a quality night of sleep, but I will follow Levitin's advice and make my room as dark as possible. The author also advises writing in journal to relax, so I will try this. I will strive to get out more to visit park and beaches. This activity will sharpen my senses and keep me young. This is such an insightful book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette Eleff

    I found this book difficult to read; so much so that I skimmed through each chapter. This book is filled with much detail that is sometimes difficult to absorb. This is almost like a reference book or encyclopedia. I am very interested in this topic but the way this book is written it did not hold my interest. The best part of Successful Aging was the Appendix, where Leviton lists 10 practices to rejuvenate your brain.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    I only got 54 pages in and screw this book. Far too technical and I cant stand the tangents made in the book that are irrelevant. No one cares about you learning to drive clutch in San Fran when youre discussing procedural memory. Had some interesting points that makes me wish this book just kept the interesting stuff and therefore shortened into a 150 page book. As another reviewer said, just flip to page 401 and read the appendix. I only got 54 pages in and screw this book. Far too technical and I can’t stand the tangents made in the book that are irrelevant. No one cares about you learning to drive clutch in San Fran when you’re discussing procedural memory. Had some interesting points that makes me wish this book just kept the interesting stuff and therefore shortened into a 150 page book. As another reviewer said, just flip to page 401 and read the appendix.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ruth Kamau

    This book is long, filled with technical terms, and in the end... it does nothing to fulfill the promise given by the title. It goes on and on about roles of hormones, what doesnt work, experiments gone wrong, and then provides the most cliche advise about how to be happy in old age. Coulda just started with that and saved us the repetitive ways of explaining Alzheimers and dementia. All in all, some may appreciate this. This book is long, filled with technical terms, and in the end... it does nothing to fulfill the promise given by the title. It goes on and on about roles of hormones, what doesn’t work, experiments gone wrong, and then provides the most cliche advise about how to be happy in old age. Coulda just started with that and saved us the repetitive ways of explaining Alzheimer’s and dementia. All in all, some may appreciate this.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn Bagg

    Fascinating, particularly Part Two - The Choices We Make. Encouraging to learn how many ways there are to influence our own wellbeing, no matter if thirty or eighty. Levitin writes in a positive way, and provides so may examples of how to improve ones lot. Recommend it to young and old alike. Fascinating, particularly Part Two - The Choices We Make. Encouraging to learn how many ways there are to influence our own wellbeing, no matter if thirty or eighty. Levitin writes in a positive way, and provides so may examples of how to improve one’s lot. Recommend it to young and old alike.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Suraj

    Successful Aging is an excellent book on neuroscience and its relationship with aging. The books is loaded with discussions on: a)  deep, but well-rounded, scientific concepts on developmental neuroscience, psychology and biochemistry b) author's opinions on aforementioned scientific topics, which are well-crafted, rational and empirical (author claims to be drawn from over 4000 research papers) c) a dab of philosophy d) practical advice on embracing aging  e) interesting questions (for e.g. if Successful Aging is an excellent book on neuroscience and its relationship with aging. The books is loaded with discussions on: a)  deep, but well-rounded, scientific concepts on developmental neuroscience, psychology and biochemistry b) author's opinions on aforementioned scientific topics, which are well-crafted, rational and empirical (author claims to be drawn from over 4000 research papers) c) a dab of philosophy d) practical advice on embracing aging  e) interesting questions (for e.g. if evolution is dependent on reproduction to transmit survival advantages, why does it not generate adaptive improvements for conditions that occur outside of normal reproductive age? How can an aged body produce an unaged one?) Author seems to be a scientist at heart. So, I think he has tried to first surface the underlying scientific principles and then try to deduce any possible advises, in contrast to doling out prescriptions. So, this book might not be as exciting to someone who's mainly looking for advises. I got an opportunity to personally discuss this book with the author in a Q&A session. The experience reinforced my opinion of Mr.Levitin that he is a charismatic erudite who knows what he is talking about.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Diana Suddreth

    If my review was only based on the first half of the book, it would have been an easy five. There are so many little tidbits of knowledge about the brain and how to keep our brains healthy, that I literally could not put it down. Even though much aligns with what I already know (eat right, exercise, stay mentally engaged), there were nuances I hadn't been aware of before (physical activity in the out of doors is better for the brain than indoors). Every other paragraph I was finding something to If my review was only based on the first half of the book, it would have been an easy five. There are so many little tidbits of knowledge about the brain and how to keep our brains healthy, that I literally could not put it down. Even though much aligns with what I already know (eat right, exercise, stay mentally engaged), there were nuances I hadn't been aware of before (physical activity in the out of doors is better for the brain than indoors). Every other paragraph I was finding something to share with my family! Unfortunately, as the book concluded, I found the information to be much less scientific and much more preachy. Levitin maintains that work is good for the brain, and all his examples are musicians. That doesn't tell me what work does for a construction worker, a teacher, or an employee of the service industry. He mentions volunteering and his examples are all directed towards the middle class. It just wasn't as engaging as the first half of the book. Nevertheless, I really liked to book, so much so that I think I'll go outside and experience a bit of nature right now...

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sandy Schleich

    I thought this book was really interesting. It did have some rather boring parts where I kind of got lost. There are several things that I liked a lot about this book. I really like brain science and how the brain works. This book explained a lot about how the aging brain works, how you could possibly help your brain as it ages, and other scientific things that have to do with the brain. I like the fact that you could get a lot of information out of this book without it being in really technical I thought this book was really interesting. It did have some rather boring parts where I kind of got lost. There are several things that I liked a lot about this book. I really like brain science and how the brain works. This book explained a lot about how the aging brain works, how you could possibly help your brain as it ages, and other scientific things that have to do with the brain. I like the fact that you could get a lot of information out of this book without it being in really technical terms that made it hard to understand. I also liked the fact that the author did not put his sightings in this book. It made it a lot easier to read and understand without having to go over all the sightings in the book. I like the fact that he put them all at the end. I think that doing it that way made it a lot easier to be able to find a specific sighting if you wanted to learn more about that subject.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jerry Baird

    I thoroughly loved this book from cover to cover. This is my second read from Daniel Levitin (A field Guide to Lies, Critical Thinking in the Information Age) and both are 5 stars and more. Successful Aging has the most recent research and data plus personal relationships that makes looking at medical terms in a new way that can be easily understood. I found that I have made many right decisions for the aging process, and also have some to work on. Approaching the age of 72, this read is I thoroughly loved this book from cover to cover. This is my second read from Daniel Levitin (A field Guide to Lies, Critical Thinking in the Information Age) and both are 5 stars and more. Successful Aging has the most recent research and data plus personal relationships that makes looking at medical terms in a new way that can be easily understood. I found that I have made many right decisions for the aging process, and also have some to work on. Approaching the age of 72, this read is essential for anyone who has an interest in making their lives more fruitful in our remaining years. I especially enjoyed the research of babies from birth to 6 months and their mental development, plus the key info on how we are improving, rather than digressing in our thought processes. If you want to learn something about yourself and what effects aging has had on you, this is the must read of the year.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    Hm. I wanted to give this 3.5 stars but I can't... There is a lot of good information here if you can wade through the stuff that is unnecessary (I don't care, for example, about a detailed discussion of the pros and cons of different fad diets). Despite reiterating over and over that the brain is not just a bag of chemicals, Levitin spends a lot of time talking about drugs and supplements that may or may not improve brain function in old age. At least he confirms pretty much all the things I Hm. I wanted to give this 3.5 stars but I can't... There is a lot of good information here if you can wade through the stuff that is unnecessary (I don't care, for example, about a detailed discussion of the pros and cons of different fad diets). Despite reiterating over and over that the brain is not just a bag of chemicals, Levitin spends a lot of time talking about drugs and supplements that may or may not improve brain function in old age. At least he confirms pretty much all the things I think I learned about unsuccessful aging from watching my mother... I guess you could skim, or read the chapters on topics you are most interested in. Just remember correlation does not mean causation...

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mary Newcomer

    Though I don't have much of a scientific background, I found this book very interesting and readable. The author explains in clear terms so many processes of aging, but he always puts it in a positive way. It is a book that gives hope and good advice about getting older. There are many positive points about being older e.g. more happiness and contentment with life, taking the long view and not stressing over the little stuff. Older people have a lot of life experience and they know that "this, Though I don't have much of a scientific background, I found this book very interesting and readable. The author explains in clear terms so many processes of aging, but he always puts it in a positive way. It is a book that gives hope and good advice about getting older. There are many positive points about being older e.g. more happiness and contentment with life, taking the long view and not stressing over the little stuff. Older people have a lot of life experience and they know that "this, too, will pass" as my mother so often quoted. If you are interested in what we will all experience further down the road, this is a must read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Viral

    As a young neuroscientist in training, I'm torn about this book. It's incredibly well researched and covers a lot of really important ground. And while it does overall a good job of balancing the difficulty of talking about the neuroscience of aging in depth without getting too technical, I think it still ends up being too advanced for a normal adult audience while also not being detailed enough for an academic audience. Overall I enjoyed it, but I can see why people have criticized this book As a young neuroscientist in training, I'm torn about this book. It's incredibly well researched and covers a lot of really important ground. And while it does overall a good job of balancing the difficulty of talking about the neuroscience of aging in depth without getting too technical, I think it still ends up being too advanced for a normal adult audience while also not being detailed enough for an academic audience. Overall I enjoyed it, but I can see why people have criticized this book for either being too complicated or not complicated enough.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Michael Francis

    Successful Aging! At my age, it is a big concern, so I looked forward to gaining some meaningful insight on the aging process in this book. I was very disappointed. The author blathers on at length about events in early life--Wait! Isn't this a book on aging? I can't change my early life and neither can you! Confession: I didn't finish this book. Part of my successful aging strategy is to avoid reading meaningless books and attempt to spend my remaining years doing something meaningful. There Successful Aging! At my age, it is a big concern, so I looked forward to gaining some meaningful insight on the aging process in this book. I was very disappointed. The author blathers on at length about events in early life--Wait! Isn't this a book on aging? I can't change my early life and neither can you! Confession: I didn't finish this book. Part of my successful aging strategy is to avoid reading meaningless books and attempt to spend my remaining years doing something meaningful. There seems to be way too much detail. I just wanted to cut to the chase.

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