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Jared Diamond: How societies can grow old better
There’s an irony behind the latest efforts to extend human life: It’s no picnic to be an old person in a youth-oriented society. Older people can become isolated, lacking meaningful work and low on funds. In this intriguing talk, Jared Diamond looks at how many different societies treat their elders — some better, some worse — and suggests we all take advantage of experience.
Jared Diamond investigates why cultures prosper or decline — and what we can learn by taking a broad look across many kinds of societies.
WHY YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO HIM?
In his books Guns, Germs and Steel and Collapse (and the popular PBS and National Geographic documentaries they inspired), big-picture scholar Jared Diamond explores civilizations and why they all seem to fall. Now in his latest book, The World Until Yesterday, Diamond examines small, traditional, tribal societies — and suggests that modern civilization is only our latest solution to survival.
Diamond’s background in evolutionary biology, geography and physiology informs his integrated vision of human history. He posits that success — and failure — depends on how well societies adapt to their changing environment.
This is Jared Diamond’s most personal book to date, as he draws extensively from his decades of field work in the Pacific islands, as well as evidence from Inuit, Amazonian Indians, Kalahari San people, and others. Diamond doesn’t romanticize traditional societiesafter all, we are shocked by some of their practicesbut he finds that their solutions to universal human problems such as child rearing, elder care, dispute resolution, risk, and physical fitness have much to teach us. Provocative, enlightening, and entertaining, The World Until Yesterday is an essential and fascinating read.
PlayForward: Using Games to Improve Adolescent Health
Play2Prevent is a new initiative aimed at forging collaborations and partnerships between scientists, educators, video game designers/developers, community based organizations and others. Based at Yale University, Play2Prevent builds on the evolving and expanding area of “serious games”, a field defined as videogames or versions of videogames intended for use outside of entertainment, for example, in the fields of education or health.
Play2Prevent’s first game is PlayForward: Elm City Stories. Currently part of a randomized clinical trial, PlayForward is an interactive world in which the player “travels” through life, facing challenges and making decisions that bring different risks and benefits. The player is able to see how important choices in risky settings can affect their lives. In the game players learn how negotiating challenges using skills they acquire in PlayForward can translate to real life providing them with positive health skills that can decrease their risk for STDs including HIV.
As games move beyond entertainment, new best practices in design, are being established that combine best approaches established in commercial entertainment games with the special needs of games for areas like health behavior change. During this talk members of the PlayForward production and research team will present the project including its underlying science along with how they learned to blend together practices and experts from games, health, to create a novel health intervention.
Lynn E. Fiellin:
Lynn E. Fiellin, M.D. is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine. Her work, which has been funded by the NIH and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is focused in the area of creating innovative models for prevention and treatment. Most recently, she has been awarded a five-year grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to develop and test an interactive video game for the purpose of risk reduction and HIV prevention in at-risk young teens. With this project she created Play2Prevent™, a new initiative aimed at forging collaborations and partnerships between scientists, educators, videogame designers/developers, community based organizations and others with the goal being to develop innovative targeted interventions and educational materials for risk reduction and prevention in youth and young adults.Play2Prevent’s first game, PlayForward: Elm City Stories, has been developed in conjunction with Digitalmill and Schell Games. Produced for tablet computers, it focuses on risk reduction and HIV prevention in 11-14 year old at-risk youth and is currently being rigorously tested with 330 teens in a randomized controlled trial.
Ben Sawyer is the co-founder of Digitalmill, a games consulting firm based in Portland, Maine. Since beginning his career in game development over ten years ago, Sawyer has pioneered major initiatives in the field of serious games and has become a nationally recognized leader within the games community.
For the past ten+ years, Sawyer has dedicated his professional life to discovering new ways to expand the use of games beyond entertainment. In 2002, he co-founded the Serious Games Initiative, a project of the U.S. Government’s Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The following year, Sawyer organized the first-ever Serious Games Summit. In 2004, Sawyer also co-founded the Games for Health project, an initiative which has built the primary social and professional networks of the health games industry. The Games for Health project receives major funding from the Pioneer Portfolio, an initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
As a game developer, Sawyer has worked on over two dozen major serious game projects, which started with “Virtual U”. Produced for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, “Virtual U,” a university simulation game, was an Independent Games Festival finalist later that year. Prior to pursuing his professional career, Sawyer graduated from the Bronx High School of Science and studied at Baruch College. In 2013 he was a presented with a Dewey Winburne Community Service Award by SxSW Interactive.
The Cure – Episode 5 : Wearable Robot
For the millions of people worldwide suffering from some form of paralysis, the only mobility option remains the same as it did centuries ago – a wheelchair. But in the US, engineers have developed a wearable robot which allows people with paralysis to stand and walk.
The rates of regional brain loss and cognitive decline caused by aging and the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are higher for women and for people with a key genetic risk factor for AD, say researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine in a study published online July 4 in the American Journal of Neuroradiology.
The linkage between APOE ε4 – which codes for a protein involved in binding lipids or fats in the lymphatic and circulatory systems – was already documented as the strongest known genetic risk factor for sporadic AD, the most common form of the disease. But the connection between the sex of a person and AD has been less-well recognized, according to the UC San Diego scientists.
“APOE ε4 has been known to lower the age of onset and increase the risk of getting the disease,” said the study’s first author Dominic Holland, PhD, a researcher in the Department of Neurosciences at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “Previously we showed that the lower the age, the higher the rates of decline in AD. So it was important to examine the differential effects of age and APOE ε4 on rates of decline, and to do this across the diagnostic spectrum for multiple clinical measures and brain regions, which had not been done before.”
The scientists evaluated 688 men and women over the age of 65 participating in the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, a longitudinal, multi-institution study to track the progression of AD and its effects upon the structures and functions of the brain. They found that women with mild cognitive impairment (a condition precursory to AD diagnosis) experienced higher rates of cognitive decline than men; and that all women, regardless of whether or not they showed signs of dementia, experienced greater regional brain loss over time than did men. The magnitude of the sex effect was as large as that of the APOE ε4 allele.
“Assuming larger population-based samples reflect the higher rates of decline for women than men, the question becomes what is so different about women,” said Holland. Hormonal differences or change seems an obvious place to start, but Holland said this is largely unknown territory – at least regarding AD.
“Another important finding of this study is that men and women did not differ in the level of biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease pathology,” said co-author Linda McEvoy, PhD, an associate professor in the UCSD Department of Radiology. “This suggests that brain volume loss in women may also be caused by factors other than Alzheimer’s disease, or that in women, these pathologies are more toxic. We clearly need more research on how an individual’s sex affects AD pathogenesis.”
Holland acknowledged that the paper likely raises more questions than it answers. “There are many factors that may affect the sex differences we observed, such as whether the women in this study may have had higher rates of diabetes or insulin resistance than the men. We also do not know how the use of hormone replacement therapy, reproductive history or years since menopause may have affected these differences. All these issues need to be examined. There is no prevailing theory.”
Who are the caregivers?
Music as medicine
Musicians Alan Yellowitz and Adam Mason run “The Beat Goes On,” a health and wellness program that uses “rhythm enrichment” to brighten the day for seniors suffering from mental illness.
Smiling Can Save Your Life: Lisa Sparks
Lisa Sparks, Ph.D., is a highly regarded teacher-scholar whose published work includes more than 100 research articles and scholarly book chapters. She is also the author and editor of more than ten books in the areas of communication, health, and aging.
Sparks is the Foster and Mary McGaw Endowed Professor in Behavioral Sciences at Chapman University and directs the Master of Science graduate program in Health and Strategic Communication at the university. She also serves as a member of the Chao Family/NCl Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California, Irvine, and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Population Health and Disease Prevention, Program in Public Health. Her research goal is to understand and create evidence-based health messages that effectively change health behavior resulting in better health outcomes.
Prior to joining Chapman in 2006, Sparks occupied faculty positions at George Mason University and the University of Texas at San Antonio.