April 05, 2006
More Of Older Brains Activate To Recognize Faces

As the brain ages more of it has to get recruited into solving problems that smaller areas used to solve.

New Haven, Conn.--One of two separate areas of the brain light up when younger people look at a house or a face, but each image activates both areas of the brain at the same time in older persons, according to a study published by Yale University and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, this month in NeuroReport.

Although the researchers cannot say for sure, one theory that needs further study is that the extra activity in older adults is probably compensation for age-related changes in brain volume or efficiency, according to Christy Marshuetz, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and a co-author of the study.

The study included a dozen people 18- to 27-years-old, and an equal number of 61- to 80-year-olds. They were asked to remember three images of houses or three images of faces and then asked to decide if another image was from the original set. Functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to track neural changes during these tasks.

I hate brain aging the most out of all aging. Brain aging is going to be the hardest problem to solve because we will be able to grow replacements for most organs. But the brain has your identity and memory. It needs to be repaired and rejuvenated by fixing all of its cells.

Our brains try to compensate for getting old.

They hypothesized that even when consciously remembering specific items, older adults would show decreased specialization in the fusiform face area of the brain and the parahippocampal place area of the brain when compared with younger adults. The researchers also expected, and found, more activity in older adults in the frontal cortex and believe this activity is compensation for less differentiation in the visual cortex at the back of the brain.

We need treatments that will repair old brain cells. Gene therapies will some day bring in replacement DNA to fix mitochondria that no longer work well and gene therapies will also bring in enzymes that will cut up junk that accumulates in cells.

The arrival of brain rejuvenation therapies will cause an economic boom when smart old minds become younger and energetic once again. Combine rejuvenation with therapies that increase intelligence and memory and the economic boom will get even larger still.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2006 April 05 09:42 PM  Brain Aging


Comments
CASpears said at April 6, 2006 11:26 AM:

You seem to assume that these gene therapy treatments will be legal and open to the general public. Somehow I think a commodity such as this will go for the highest bitter, and create a new ruling class oligarchy to lord over the rest of us. I am personally not for any artificial genetic manipulation of humans, accept to cure diseases, such as cancer. Growing old is not a disease. It is part of the life cycle. People are supposed to die, if for anything else, than to stop a uncontrollable population. People living upward of 125 years, etc will not only upset society on a macro level but also on a family level? Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone's great great grandparents were still alive. Talk about slowing social progress...geez...i don't know about you but if it was up to a lot of people's great grandparents I would still be living under Jim Crow laws and women would be barefoot and pregnant in the house. Sometimes we are fortunate these people die off.

Bob Badour said at April 6, 2006 5:13 PM:
Growing old is not a disease.

Speak for yourself. Aging is a disease. Congestive heart failure is a disease. Diabetes is a disease. Dementia is a disease. Generalized ataxia is a disease. Arthritis is a disease. Atherosclerosis is a disease. -- All of these are aging.


People are supposed to die

Yeah, and if God meant for humans to fly, he would have given us wings. If God meant for humans to communicate in groups across vast distances, he would have given us telepathy. Damn us and our planes and our internets! Damn us all to hell!

If people are supposed to die, why do we have hospitals? And ambulances? And doctors? And vaccines? Why do humans expend so much personal treasure preventing death?


Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone's great great grandparents were still alive.

In my case, I would have someone to discuss mid-19th century history with who could speak with 1st hand knowledge. In Randall's case, he would have someone to discuss late-18th century history.

In my case, it would add 16 people to a population of descendants numbering well into the hundreds. I would guess that's about 0.01% of the contribution of recent immigration.


about slowing social progress

Slow social progress? In my case, it would mean several entrepreneurs who made their marks on this country would be alive and creating new businesses. For instance, here in PEI, there is a road and a pond named after my great-grandfather who used technology to increase productivity and raise living standards here. If he were still alive with a youthful brain, he would be doing so still. Instead of building dams and mills, he would be doing something else.

Randall Parker said at April 6, 2006 5:17 PM:

Imagine that Mozart was still alive. Imagine he'd written another couple of centuries of music. Ditto Chopin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Bach, Beethoven, and Borodin.

CASpears said at April 6, 2006 6:28 PM:

There is a difference in my mind between disease and the natural breakdown of the human body due to age.

I'm not buying what you guys are selling. Sorry. As I said, I seriously doubt this would be possible for the general population, not in a capitalist society. It is too profitable a commodity. I also do not believe it would be beneficial to have 150 year old men, etc staying in power for decade after decade...there would be no room for up and coming younger men, they would have to wait decades to gain any kind of power, recognition, etc. You want to see a murder rate increase (specifically patricide, or I guess great grand patricide) you would go there. Can you imagine how many angry men their would be in their 40s, tired of working 20+ years under the same man, waiting on their chance to rise in the heirarchy??

None of these things will do anything to change when humans sexually mature, which is in their early to mid teens. People will only put off procreation for so long due to education and occupation, so you will have up to 5 or 6 generations of people living at the same time or more, and their is only so much room in society.

"Ditto Chopin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Bach, Beethoven, and Borodin..."

That's nice, but if that was the case their would likely be no Jimi Hendrix, no Elvis, no Led Zeplin, no Doors, no Biggie Smalls, Tupac...I believe all these music forms are valid, and had their place in society, in our evolution as a species and a human culture in our respective societies. What you promote is stagnation, not evolution.

There is something to be said for the concept of "new blood"...young people are aggressive by nature and more likely to bring about change than older people who are relatively stagnate. This is the same reason that most physists do their best work in their twenties, and not in their 40's or 50's although they are not yet experiencing dementia. This is why when a country has a large amount of its people coming of age (like with the baby boomers in the 60's) there is more social change than when the majority are old. What you want to happen is not even human as we know it. It would make us something else, I fear something worse.

CASpears said at April 6, 2006 6:33 PM:

Contrary to may scifi books, technology is not going to solve all human problems, sometimes it also causes a few or helps to promote some, it all matters what people do with it.

Antinomy said at April 6, 2006 8:56 PM:

The new blood idea has some merit; nevertheless, I'd just as soon stay alive.

crush41 said at April 6, 2006 11:30 PM:

"That's nice, but if that was the case their would likely be no Jimi Hendrix, no Elvis, no Led Zeplin, no Doors, no Biggie Smalls, Tupac..."

You've made his point. And don't forget Pachelbel, Randall!

Mthson said at April 7, 2006 3:35 AM:

Social progress might be increased by letting the rest of the population into the high-IQ-club (through new reproductive therapies, such as embryo selection etc). There's a book called The Cultural Creatives that argues the top quarter or third of society creates the cultural and social movements that drive the rest of society.

CASpears said at April 7, 2006 5:17 AM:

Mthson:

Ever see the movie Gattica?

I do see your point in regard to the book you mentioned, but once you do "reproductive therapies" you open a pandora's box that leads to embryonic Nazism...discrimination down to a science. This will not stop with IQ therapy. What happens when someone decides you aren't good enough to be born? Do you think you are genetically perfect? According to whom? Once again, I do not think this type of commodity will just be magically open to the general public out of the good of someone's heart. That is nonsense...it will create a new oligarchy.

It is funny...most Western people are obsessed with this "fountain of youth" idea. They fear aging and death. My wife is from Japan, and most Japanese people do not dread getting old, maybe because in their culture they see it as part of the natural life cycle and they gain greater respect with age in their society, so asking a Japanese women her age is not considered offensive. It seems to be that what is driving all this is fear of death.

I'm not a Christian, but I would say a deist. I would say that death and the end of this life is not the worse thing that can happen to you. What happens to your soul after this life is more important. I'm suspecting most of you are athiest therefore you think this is all you have and want to do anything to hold on to it. Sad.

Bob Badour said at April 7, 2006 12:49 PM:
There is a difference in my mind between disease and the natural breakdown of the human body due to age.

If the difference exists only in your mind, it is not significant to the rest of us. Empiricists have no arguments to convince solipsists. We simply observe that solipsism remains an unconvincing argument for public policy or persuasion.


Once again, I do not think this type of commodity will just be magically open to the general public out of the good of someone's heart. That is nonsense...it will create a new oligarchy.

I don't know where you get your paranoid fears. Think of all of the great rejuvenating advances in medicine of the 20th century: aspirin, penicillin, vaccination, breast augmentation. Not one of those therapies has been kept from the general public. They become increasingly affordable with time.

Can you point to a single commodity withheld solely for the elite in capitalist society?


I would say that death and the end of this life is not the worse thing that can happen to you.

Please do tell: what is worse than death? Even if I do not fear death, I see no reason to seek it needlessly.

CASpears said at April 7, 2006 3:38 PM:

If the difference exists only in your mind, it is not significant to the rest of
us. Empiricists have no arguments to convince solipsists. We simply observe that
solipsism remains an unconvincing argument for public policy or persuasion.

--Uhm...okay but I am not a solipsist...and that fact that you hold a view does
not make it universal, or the views of some on this sight "right" simply because
you think them. This is obviously a circular argument.


I don't know where you get your paranoid fears. Think of all of the great
rejuvenating advances in medicine of the 20th century: aspirin, penicillin,
vaccination, breast augmentation. Not one of those therapies has been kept from
the general public. They become increasingly affordable with time.

Can you point to a single commodity withheld solely for the elite in capitalist
society?

--Haha...are you joking me. Health Care. Well quality health care. There are
billions of people who die from diseases every single day that are treatable, or
completely curable. Basic nutritious food would be another. Quality education
is another (at least in many countries, such as the United States and most of
the developing world, primarily due to economics and politics).

Please do tell: what is worse than death? Even if I do not fear death, I see no
reason to seek it needlessly.
-- I consider this life one phase, probably a relatively short one in my total
existence. What happens to my soul is what concerns me more. I do not fear
growing old. Being born, aging, dying, the linear finite life that we have is
part of what makes us human. Immortality is a fools dream. Even if you got it
I seriously doubt it would make you happen in the end.

Paul E said at April 7, 2006 6:39 PM:

PROTIP: Gattaca was not a dystopia.

Also, you appear to be reasoning that an immensely valuable good generates some sort of capitalistic incentive to sell it to as few people as possible, which I'm having a hard time understanding.

Basic health, food, and sanitation is not withheld from billions across the globe by the evil hand of the market, but by profound failures of government -- the misdirection, theft, and waste of the torrent of treasure that pours into Africa as foreign aid is only the most poignant example of this.

Immortality? That is too much to ask for right now. Mere freedom from age will suffice. We can figure out how to escape the confines of spacetime's entropic endpoint later.

CASpears said at April 7, 2006 7:34 PM:

No Gattaca was not a dystopia, but very few places are "absolutes." Nazi GErmany was not a dystopia either, but there was real human suffering happening under the surface, as we found out at the end of the war.

Uhm...who is talking about Africa...I'm talking about the United States. If you wish to discuss Africa and parts of Asia...well I am more than capable of arguing that a lot of the problem in the developing world is pure capitalism, whose interest are represented through nations who in turn control the World Bank, IMF, and WTO, or do you think government failure creates the billions of $ in subsidies that developed countries spend every year on their inefficient farms (most of which are big corporations, not small farmers) in order to drive down world wide market price, effectively keeping over a billion people in poverty? Let's not go there.

Randall Parker said at April 7, 2006 9:08 PM:

CASpears,

You are not talking about Africa? You stated:

There are billions of people who die from diseases every single day that are treatable, or completely curable.

Where, pray tell? In the United States? Surely you jest.

Paul E said at April 7, 2006 9:26 PM:

The World Bank, the IMF, and the WTO are not expressions of pure capitalism, but monkeywrenches in the functioning thereof. Subsidies are pretty much prima facie a government failure, since they're govenrment creations and mess up the functioning of the market (a large portion of the health care mess in the US can be traced to government regulation, much of it well-meaning). As for who is talking about Africa, well, your mention of a lack of 'basic nutritious food' and people dying of curable diseases certainly didn't refer to the United States. Africa seemed like the logical guess.

CASpears said at April 8, 2006 5:10 AM:

In any case you seem to think that genetic manipulation is the cure to all these things, and "government failure" and "regulations" will magically go away. Uhm...unless alien's take over the planet, I would suspect this won't happen.

Point at hand, I strongly believe believe that genetic manipulation of humans, should be banned, unless it is gene therapy to prevent cancer, etc. Anything else...no way. I would suspect that most people in developed countries will agree with that. The problem is not the benefits on an individual basis, it is how it will effect society and the long term and unforseen effects it will have on human evolution. Once you start going down that slope it is hard to control where you end up.

Bob Badour said at April 8, 2006 4:16 PM:

CASpears,

I heard they made marijuana use illegal. Did that eliminate it?

Suppose someone discovered a genetic modification available through somatic gene therapy that could prevent several forms of cancer and a handful of other degenerative diseases. Would that be permissible?

CASpears said at April 8, 2006 4:44 PM:

That's not what I'm talking about.

Just be careful what you wish for. Sometimes the Jinnie is great until to admire and to dream about until it actually comes out of the bottle.

Bob Badour said at April 8, 2006 8:23 PM:

I am not sure what you are talking about, but I would prefer if you refrained from imposing your religious views on others.

CASpears said at April 8, 2006 9:20 PM:

I'm not imposing anything. I'm sharing my philosphy on life just as you are. You seem to not like mine because I do not whorship the promise of technology in creating a utopia. I don't have to read bad sci-fi novels to know that this is nieve and contrary to the human experience of the last 2 million years or so.

Jeffrey Gordon said at April 8, 2006 11:08 PM:

CAspears, I have one simple question for you. Do the majority of the people on this planet live better off now or three hundred years ago?

CASpears said at April 9, 2006 8:26 AM:

The majority...I would say now. A sizable portion though probably do not live much better than they did 300 years ago, and if compare relative prosperity, I would say that some areas of the planet have actually devolved in many ways from were they were 300 years ago.

Make your point clear sir. I believe my point is clear, even to someone of the most basic mentality.

Jeffrey Gordon said at April 9, 2006 10:07 AM:

CASpears, thanks for your answer. Also, I will say that I think your point was clear. I will now clarify.

It seems that you and I would likely agree that a sizeable portion of humanity is better off now than in the past. I personally attribute most of this improvement to scientific and technological advancement. I think that when all is said and done, future scientific and technological progress will continue this trend. I conclude, that despite the dangers (and I acknowledge they do exist) we should not put the brakes on. On average people will be better off, not worse, based on history up till now.

I realize that the modern world is not perfect. I have many of my own personal beefs with modernity. Having said that, I would not go backwards. I also will not stand still. I think life will slowly improve, even for those billions who are currently disenfranchised.

Jeffrey Gordon

Bob Badour said at April 9, 2006 11:47 AM:
I'm not imposing anything. I'm sharing my philosphy on life just as you are.

With all due respect, since your philosophy on life includes prohibitions on technologies and research on the basis of your faith, you are trying to impose your faith on others. Please stop that.

CASpears said at April 9, 2006 12:59 PM:

Jeffrey:

I come to this site because I am curious about the latest scientific discoveries. I work with Databases everyday and have technologically based degree, so I am definately not anti-technology or anti-science. That being said, I do not believe that all scientific and technological are good just because we "can" accomplish them, especially if we do not stop to think about the real life social and historic implications. Caution is always warrented. Only a brash child will get so excited with the latest discovery that they will not stop and think of the consequences. That is all I am saying.

Bob:

What is it you base morality on? If it furthered science, would it be okay with you to experiment on prisoners? How about poor people in 3rd world countries? Is cloning something you approve of? What is it you base these decisions on? Traditional religions? Humanism? A moral code? In the end it all comes down to your philosphy on life, it does not matter what the basis for that is...all humans have a sense of "right and wrong", "good and bad" which might not be universal in their specifics, but do exist in us all and it goes to how we are raised, how or moral compass is defined. To be honest I do not care how you judge your morality, if it is based on what you heard the Dalai Lama say, Islam, a cult, or abstract humanism. None of it threatens me. So why does my belief threaten you? Are you that insecure that you can not stand to have your beliefs challenged? Or is your God, technology? You believe it to be a panacea for all human ills...that will eventually lead to utopia? haha...come now. Lets all grow up a tad shall we?

Jeffrey Gordon said at April 9, 2006 1:43 PM:

To CASpears: fair enough. I think our positions are in fact fairly similar, except perhaps that I'm a little less cautious than you, and I come from a less spiritual background so my motives are somewhat different. Peace.

Bob Badour said at April 9, 2006 2:05 PM:
would it be okay with you to experiment on prisoners?

If they consent? Why not?


How about poor people in 3rd world countries?

Again, I fail to see how a subject's country of origin affects informed consent.


Is cloning something you approve of?

Yes. Humans have been cloning for centuries -- perhaps millenia. Everytime anyone propagates a plant by a cutting or grafting, that person clones something. As a meat and potatos kinda guy, I am all in favour of cloning. Otherwise, where would I get my potatos?

Do you disapprove of identical twins? Should we round them all up and do away with them? After all, they are clones.


What is it you base these decisions on?

Reason -- as much as possible. Even if I disapproved of cloning, I would see no reason to ban it outright. I don't like evangelism, which I find disrespectful and arrogant, but I see no reason to ban that either. You should be free to proselytize all you want as long as you do not abuse the state's monopoly on violence to forcibly coerce others to abide by your faith. I am a strong advocate for the separation of church and state.


So why does my belief threaten you?

Your beliefs regarding the potential harm of genetic modification do not threaten me. Your belief in some silly spirit does not threaten me. It is your desire to impose your faith on others through the use of violence that worries me. The State is violent. Prohibition is violent. Criminalization is violent. One should limit violence only to when it is absolutely required.

Or do you openly favour unecessary violence?


Are you that insecure that you can not stand to have your beliefs challenged?

Your question is absurd. I am not the one who advocated for state intervention to bolster my beliefs. It is your belief system that apparently lacks the security to stand on its own.


Or is your God, technology? You believe it to be a panacea for all human ills

Since when did you become an expert on my beliefs? Asshole. As an atheist, I believe no god exists. Technology is technology and not deity. Duh! Technology is neither good nor bad. While it is no cure for all human ills, technology does have the promise to cure many of them.

The vast bulk of researchers throughout human history have been responsible. Especially those condemned by the church. Those who lacked responsibility, like Mengele for instance, required a misapplication of the State's monopoly on violence to sustain their irresponsibility. History has shown that science proceeds responsibly in the absense of violent intervention by the State.

I prefer you refrain from imposing your faith on others.

CASpears said at April 9, 2006 5:43 PM:

Bob, lot it go. If you are a-moral, so be it. I am not a member of an organized religion, although I was raised Catholic, I have no praticed since high school (many years ago)...I also do not like evangilists. As I said I am a diest, maybe more of an agnostic, but I do believe in something greater than myself, and man. I also do not advocate violence...although your definition of violence is very broad.

I fail to see how I have imposed anything on you. I also did not call you "out of your name", your base language does not impress me, especially for someone who considers everything an act of violence. I find your language quite violent in nature. I believe it is called "verbal assult". You know there is medication for paranoia too, just some friendly advice.

Bob Badour said at April 10, 2006 10:12 AM:

You are a fucking asshole. I am not a-moral. I am an atheist. Atheism does not imply either amorality or immorality you smug idiot.

Paranoia? Fuck off!

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