How Presidential Candidates’ Aging Brains Factor Into the 2024 Race


By Jeff Inglis | March eighth, 2024

Joe Biden and Donald Trump are two of the three oldest folks ever to function president. How does a candidate’s age influence their mind well being and the presidential race as a complete? Psychologists, molecular biologists, and different consultants weigh in.

The main contenders within the 2024 presidential election are two of the three oldest folks ever to function president. President Joe Biden is 81. Former President Donald Trump is 77. Ronald Reagan took workplace at 69 and left it at age 77. Each Biden and Trump have confronted criticism about what can look like apparent indicators of getting old, together with questions on their reminiscence and cognitive talents. Students writing for The Dialog U.S. have mentioned numerous features of how getting old impacts folks’s brains. Right here we highlight 4 articles that collectively clarify why there’s trigger for concern, why there isn’t any clear assertion to be made about any particular particular person’s cognitive energy as they age, and methods folks can protect their mind energy into their golden years.

1. Decline in pondering can include age

Brandeis psychology professor Angela Gutchess, who research mind exercise to grasp human thought, mentioned there’s a physique of labor documenting a cognitive decline in getting old folks: “Previous behavioral information largely pointed to loss in cognitive – that’s, pondering – talents with age, together with poorer reminiscence and larger distractibility.”

However her work has additionally discovered that “getting old brains can reorganize and alter, and never essentially for the more serious.”

2. Some folks age quicker than others

Getting older is a person expertise, defined Aditi Gurkar, a geriatric medication scholar on the College of Pittsburgh: “Though age is the principal threat issue for a number of persistent ailments, it’s an unreliable indicator of how rapidly your physique will decline or how prone you might be to age-related illness. It’s because there’s a distinction between your chronological age, or the variety of years you’ve been alive, and your organic age – your bodily and useful capability.”

Gurkar’s work has been targeted on the latter, noting that some folks with the identical chronological ages can have very completely different cognitive and bodily talents. Key elements embody the energy of an individual’s social connections, in addition to their sleeping habits, water consumption, train and food plan.

3. Even cells age in another way contained in the physique

Ellen Quarles, who teaches mobile and molecular biology of getting old on the College of Michigan, defined that getting old is so individualized that it varies even on the mobile stage: “There is no such thing as a single explanation for getting old. No two folks age the identical approach, and certainly, neither do any two cells. There are numerous methods on your fundamental biology to go improper over time, and these add as much as create a singular community of aging-related elements for every individual that make discovering a one-size-fits-all anti-aging therapy extraordinarily difficult.”

4. There’s a approach to protect talents

Brian Ho and Ronald Cohen, College of Florida students who research mind well being in getting old folks, have discovered that bodily exercise makes an actual distinction in cognition: “Individuals within the oldest stage of life who recurrently interact in cardio actions and energy coaching workouts carry out higher on cognitive assessments than those that are both sedentary or take part solely in cardio train.”

Particularly, they discovered: “(T)hose who integrated each cardio workouts, comparable to swimming and biking, and energy workouts like weightlifting into their routines – no matter depth and length – had higher psychological agility, faster pondering and larger capability to shift or adapt their pondering.”

Whether or not it’s for Biden and Trump or anybody else, these students advise staying lively, deepening connections with household and pals and recognizing that not everybody ages the identical approach.

Biden, Trump, and Cognitive Decline: When Cognitive Checks Turn into a Marketing campaign Challenge

This text by Politics and Society Editor Jeff Inglis at The Dialog is republished from The Dialog underneath a Inventive Commons license.