Dr. Robert N. Butler is the President and CEO of the International Longevity Center. Whether through his many appearances in front of the United States Congress, or his hundreds of interviews with the media, Dr. Butler has worked tirelessly for decades to push population-aging issues into the public discourse. As a gerontologist and psychiatrist, Dr. Butler recognized discrimination against the elderly as early as 1968, coining the term "ageism." Eight years later, the publication of his Pulitzer-prize-winning "Why Survive? Being Old in America" solidified his reputation as someone who foresaw the impact that aging would have on American society. A founding director of the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health, as well as the nation's first department of geriatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Dr. Butler often consults for television and radio. He is the author of some 300 scientific and medical articles. Source: The International Longevity Center
Question: How we slow memory loss as we age?
Robert Butler: Well, one of the things of course is to avoid high blood pressure, diabetes, other conditions, which compromise the circulation to the brain as perhaps the most powerful thing we can do. Not smoke is another good example. Not get obese.
Robert Butler: Well, if you practice with memory, there are ways of sustaining and certainly learning new vocabularies, learning new opportunities like musical instruments or a new language - all of those things seem to help and build a better memory and better intellectual functioning with age.
Question: Can science fix memory?
Robert Butler: Well the promise of science is that at the most basic level, studies that are under way to understand the differences between past memory and its maintenance and new memories because new memories when they come in have to register and when they register, they then get put into a retrieval system. So, we are beginning to learn more about exactly what does happen in memory through scientific point of view. From the practical point of view as I have already said most important is to exercise that brain and take on new challenges.
Robert Butler: By and large drugs have not been;if anything, they tend to be negative towards the brain. Most drugs that are on the market, unfortunately. Now, an antihypertensive medication that prevents you from getting strokes, that certainly prevents brain damage and there are drugs, several, that are available if you already have Alzheimer's disease, it will help a little, but only for a short amount of time. So, there is no promising drug that I am aware of that really will achieve the result of an increased brain function.
Recorded on: Mar 17 2008