Sunday, July 29, 2018

Centenarians and Cognitive Resilience

The June issue of The Journals of Gerontology: Series A has this interesting study which suggests that the offspring of centenarians are more successful at preserving their cognitive functioning at older ages than offspring from parents that do not live so long. And if this is so, it would make the benefits of an applied gerontological intervention even more significant.

A sample from the study's abstract:

After adjustment for age, sex, education, stroke, and diabetes, offspring were 46% less likely to have baseline cognitive impairment (adjusted odds ratio 0.54, 95% CI 0.35–0.82) and were 27% less likely to become cognitively impaired over a median follow-up of 7.8 years (adjusted hazard ratio 0.73, 95% CI 0.53–0.99). Female gender was also independently associated with lower odds of baseline cognitive impairment and lower risk of incident cognitive impairment.

Familial longevity may confer exposure to genetic and environmental factors that predispose centenarian offspring to preservation of cognitive function at older ages. Centenarian offspring cohorts may provide an opportunity to study cognitive resilience associated with familial longevity.


Friday, July 06, 2018

Fulbright Visiting Research Chair

I am on sabbatical in the Fall term. I posted substantive posts on my two previous posts- the first one at Oxford University in 2006 here, and my last sabbatical in 2013 at UCLA here.

"What is the purpose of a sabbatical?" my non-academic friends often ask me. The statement on Academic Leave from Queen's University explains:

The primary purpose of granting academic leave to members of faculty is to enable them to enhance their quality as scholars, teachers, and researchers, thereby assisting the University to achieve greater excellence in its basic areas of responsibility - effective teaching and the advancement of learning.

I am very happy to report that I will be spending my sabbatical as the Fulbright Research Chair in Social Sciences at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. Queen's University has compiled some promotional news items about this, which is where the picture featured here is from. Details about the award are here, and a new autobiography about me for the University is here.

While away I will invest my energies into two main projects. Further research on the grant project titled "Justice in the Genomic Age", and some ground level research on a new book project about play and a realistic utopia.


Monday, July 02, 2018

Plateau of human mortality?

The latest issue of Science has an interesting study on the plateau of human mortality in advanced ages. The abstract:

Theories about biological limits to life span and evolutionary shaping of human longevity depend on facts about mortality at extreme ages, but these facts have remained a matter of debate. Do hazard curves typically level out into high plateaus eventually, as seen in other species, or do exponential increases persist? In this study, we estimated hazard rates from data on all inhabitants of Italy aged 105 and older between 2009 and 2015 (born 1896–1910), a total of 3836 documented cases. We observed level hazard curves, which were essentially constant beyond age 105. Our estimates are free from artifacts of aggregation that limited earlier studies and provide the best evidence to date for the existence of extreme-age mortality plateaus in humans.

Naturenews has the scoop on the controversy here.