Public Release: 

Whalley picked for keynote address at The Gerontological Society of America's 2003 Annual Meeting

The Gerontological Society of America

The Gerontological Society of America is pleased to announce that Professor Lawrence J. Whalley of Scotland's University of Aberdeen has accepted President George Martin's invitation to present the keynote address on November 21st at the 56th Annual Scientific Meeting in San Diego.

Whalley has recently drawn a great deal of international renown as the author of "The Aging Brain" and the head of a 65-year study linking youthful intelligence with a longer lifespan. He currently holds the position of professor of mental health at Aberdeen University's medical school.

Whalley's 2001 book "The Aging Brain" displays an encouraging future for the human brain as it ages. His research demonstrates that certain aspects of mental functions improve over time and suggests that the brain may be able to compensate for its own aging.

His publication received acclaim for being the first popular, comprehensive and wide- ranging examination of the aging mind's performance. He suggests that some failing parts of the brain may be able to learn from other parts where mental abilities are better retained.

The importance of unlocking the keys to sustaining a healthy mind was made even clearer in the decades-long study mentioned above. Whalley led a team of researchers who recovered data from a study of 11-year-olds in Aberdeen in 1932. The scientists tracked down 300 of the people who had survived to 1997 and were able to draw some significant conclusions.

Whalley's team found that those with high mental ability in late childhood had a reduced chance of death up to age 76. These findings allowed them to speculate that childhood diet, economic status, and awareness of healthy lifestyles can contribute significantly to well being later in life.

In fact, the body of Whalley's work seeks to emphasize that lifestyle is crucial in preventing the risk of mental decline later in life. He also reports that lifestyle changes in middle age can reduce difficulties down the road.

The choice of Whalley as speaker for the November meeting is ideal, since this year's Presidential Interdisciplinary Symposia seek to represent the multidisciplinary nature of GSA. The topics will include obesity over the lifespan, Alzheimer's disease research, early origins of age-related disease, protein aggregation in brain amyloidoses, and intergenerational issues.

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The Gerontological Society of America (GSA), founded in 1945, is the oldest and largest national multidisciplinary scientific organization devoted to the advancement of gerontological research. Its membership includes some 5,000+ researchers, educators, practitioners, and other professionals in the field of aging. The Society's principal missions are to promote research and education in aging and to encourage the dissemination of research results to other scientists, decision makers, and practitioners.

Information about The Gerontological Society of America and its 56th Annual Scientific Meeting can be found online at http://www.geron.org.

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