Of course, the auditorium of volunteers erupted in questions right away, because everyone wanted to know how to stop losing their minds. Professor Anthony Wagner, who leads the Stanford Memory Lab, and all the scientists involved were incredibly patient with us as we stayed for hours and asked questions of individual researchers in the halls. I. Loved. It!
Notes I took:
1. Genes seem to play a minor role in Alzheimer's.
2. The brain is plastic and adapts.
3. Learning has protective powers on the brain.
4. High distraction activities and environments cause the brain to underperform.
5. Cardiovascular fitness and diet are important. They didn't list specifics except to say what is good for the heart is good for the brain.
6. Sleep hygiene is important for attention.
7. Stress/adrenaline enable learning up to a point but the brain underperforms past that point.
8. One reason recall declines with age is the buildup of memories so for each cue there are multiple competing memories.
9. Cues are important for recall. If you try to recall your high school experiences, going there will cause a flood of them to come back that you couldn't recall without the cues.
10. Science still doesn't know what causes Alzheimer's. The buildup of plaques is correlated and predictive to an extent. The plaques start building 20 years before symptoms. A significant number of people have a buildup of plaques but do not experience symptoms.
11. All Alzheimer's drug trials have met with failure.
My takeaways: exercise, eat well, sleep well, learn as if our realities depend on it.