Read More UMBC News Blog Stories

November 27, 2007

Dr. Gene Cohen Explains Why Brains Get Better With Age

Kavan Peterson
Office: 410-455-1896

BALTIMORE -- Contrary to long-held beliefs that brain power inevitably declines as we age, the mind actually experiences a surge of creativity and brain function well into the second half of life, says Dr. Gene Cohen, MD, PhD, who will present his groundbreaking research on “Creativity and Aging” at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), on December 3.

Sponsored by the Erickson School at UMBC, Cohen will speak at the University Center Ballroom at 10 a.m. Cohen is director of George Washington University’s Center on Aging, Health & Humanities and author of the book The Mature Mind: the Positive Power of the Aging Brain. Drawing on the latest scientific research as well as in-depth interviews with older women and men, Cohen has demonstrated for the first time how there are actually positive changes taking place in our minds as we age.

In his presentation, Cohen, 63, will explore how late-blooming artists such as Grandma Moses, Picasso and Georgia O’Keeffe reached their creative peak late in life. He will explain how the mind gives us “inner pushes” of creativity and positive change throughout adult life.

According to Cohen, not only can older brains produce new brain cells, but the latest research shows that the brain can draw on areas of itself underused in earlier years, compensating for effects of aging. From age 60-80, the brain’s information processing center achieves its greatest density and reach. And the brain has the capacity to “re-sculpt” itself as certain genes are activated by experience as we age.

Cohen is at the forefront of a movement to focus attention on the capacity for positive change and creative expression in the second half of life, rather than on aging as a problem.

About Gene Cohen

Cohen, a graduate of Harvard and Georgetown University medical school, earned a doctorate in gerontology from the Union Institute. He was the first chief of the National Institute of Mental Health’s Center on Aging, and served as acting director of the National Institute on Aging and coordinated Alzheimer’s-disease programs at the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Cohen is founding director the Washington, DC-based think tank Center on Aging, and is past president of the Gerontological Society of America. He now directs George Washington University’s Center on Aging, Health & Humanities. He is also a professor of behavioral sciences and psychiatry at GW.

About the Erickson School

The Erickson School at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County was created with a $5 million commitment from John Erickson, CEO and founder Erickson Retirement Communities, and matching state funds. The School integrates aging, management, and policy in each of its programs, with a strong emphasis on preparing leaders for the 21st century. The School offers credit and non-credit educational programs at the undergraduate, masters, and executive levels.

Posted by kavan at November 27, 2007 12:06 PM