Dr. Jonathan Schooler: Aging Brain and Memory Loss | Self-improvement Atlas #12

In this episode, host Aditi Kutty is joined by Dr. Jonathan Schooler, a Distinguished Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of California Santa Barbara

Aging is a natural process. However, it has also been described as the primary risk factor for neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia. But do you know what other impact aging has on personal life and growth? This episode will guide you on how to prevent an aging brain and memory loss.

Meet Dr. Jonathan Schooler

Jonathan Schooler, Ph.D., a Distinguished Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of California Santa Barbara.  He earned his BA from Hamilton College in 1981 and his Ph.D. from the University of Washington in 1987. 

His research on human cognition explores topics that intersect philosophy and psychology, such as how fluctuations in people’s awareness of their experience mediate mind-wandering and how exposing individuals to philosophical positions alters their behavior.  

Dr. Schooler is also interested in the science of science (meta-science), including understanding why effect sizes often decline over time and how greater transparency in scientific reporting might address this issue.

He is also a former holder of a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair and is a fellow of a variety of scientific organizations, is on the editorial board of a number of psychology journals and is the recipient of major grants from both the United States and Canadian governments as well as several private foundations. His research and comments are frequently featured in major media outlets such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Nature Magazine.

About the episode

In this episode hosted by Aditi Kutty, Dr. Schooler said memory refers to the mental impact of past experiences that shape one’s current state, and it has different types, including implicit, episodic (personal experiences), semantic (general knowledge), and procedural (skills).

He also said memory loss is a common phenomenon associated with aging. Some older adults can retain autobiographical memories from earlier stages of life quite well, but they may experience difficulties remembering recent experiences and relatively insignificant day-to-day events.

Moreover, Dr. Schooler highlighted some habits, including exercise, as a beneficial activity that promotes neurogenesis, especially in the hippocampus, which is associated with memory; meditation, as a way to train the frontal cortex and reduce stress; and other factors like sleep and a balanced diet are also emphasized for optimal memory function.

In conclusion

There are various ways to prevent memory loss, including engaging in activities that stimulate the mind, doing physical exercises, and maintaining social connections—these can help support cognitive function as people age. 

However, it is also important to note that while these habits can support brain health, memory loss and cognitive decline are natural aging processes, and complete prevention may not be possible.

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