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Carved in Sand: When Attention Fails and Memory Fades in Midlifeby Cathryn Jakob Ramin
Synopses & Reviews
Why can't you remember where you put your keys? Or the title of the movie you saw last week? Or the name of your favorite restaurant?
Acclaimed journalist Cathryn Jakobson Ramin takes readers on a lively journey to explain what happens to memory and attention in middle age. Along the way, she turns up fresh scientific findings, explores the dark regions of the human brain, and hears the intimate confessions of high-functioning midlife adults who — like you — want to understand exactly what's going on upstairs.
Anyone older than forty knows that forgetfulness can be unnerving, frustrating, and sometimes terrifying. With compassion and humor, Jakobson Ramin sets out to discover what midlife forgetfulness is all about — from the perspectives of physiology, psychology, and sociology. Relentless in her search for answers to questions about her own unreliable memory, she explores the factors that determine how well — or poorly — one's brain will age. She consults experts in the fields of sleep, stress, traumatic brain injury, hormones, genetics, and dementia, as well as specialists in nutrition, cognitive psychology, and the burgeoning field of drug-based cognitive enhancement. The landscape of the midlife brain is not what you might think, and to understand its strengths and weaknesses turns out to be the best way to cope.
Jakobson Ramin's reporting of the stories of a wide array of midlife men and women will resonate with readers. Her audience will glean spectacular insight into how to elicit the very best performance from a middle-aged brain. A groundbreaking work that represents the best of narrative nonfiction, this is a timely, highly readable, and much-needed book for anyone whose memory is not what it used to be.
"Memory loss and other cognitive problems are increasingly the bugaboo of aging baby boomers, as well as many of their elders. In her first book, veteran journalist Ramin turns herself into a guinea pig as she seeks ways to restore her own failing memory and growing inability to concentrate. Looking at a wide variety of genetic, biochemical and environmental factors that slow the connections among the brain's 100 billion neurons, especially in the hippocampus, Ramin undertakes 10 interventions, methods of achieving her cognitive enhancement. She logs the ups and downs of medications such as Adderall and Provigil; she looks at dietary supplements and biofeedback. She ends with discussions with experts, such as Nobelist Eric Kandel, about what keeps some people mentally young into old age; the key seems to be having the 'mental reserves' gained from challenging one's mind with new kinds of learning — such as learning a new language or studying art — that use different parts of the brain; the right diet and exercise also help. Overall, the variety of perspectives and the wealth of scientific information Ramin provides, as well as her warm personal style, will reward readers and may well help them stay mentally sharp." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Cathryn Jakobson Ramin, a journalist for the past twenty-five years, has been published in the New York Times Magazine; O, The Oprah Magazine; New York magazine; and the Los Angeles Times, among many other publications. She lives in Northern California.
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