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Book and Media Reviews
December 19, 2007

Brain Aging: Models, Methods, and Mechanisms

Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: John L. Zeller, MD, PhD, Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2007;298(23):2796-2800. doi:10.1001/jama.298.23.2798

Some individuals age more successfully than others. In a field dominated by youngsters, mathematician Donald Coxeter produced his last important paper at age 96 years; George Bernard Shaw, his last play at 93 years; and Grandma Moses, her last painting at 101 years. The record holder for human longevity, Madame Calment, died at age 122 years with no clinical symptoms of dementia.

So what permits some to age with their cognitive abilities largely intact, while more than half of individuals older than 80 years develop mild to severe dementias? As longevity increases, the medical and social importance of this question becomes ever more pressing, and a book such as Brain Aging is particularly welcome. However, as well written and enlightening as the book is, I find aspects of it disturbing.