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Excellence and Expertise

Elliott Jardin wants to help us better understand how our brains age

There’s a lot about your brain that Elliott Jardin wants you to know. That’s why he started his own podcast about the brain: The Brain Health Podcast, available on all major platforms.

Excellence and Expertise

Elliott Jardin wants to help us better understand how our brains age

Elliott Jardin

An assistant professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Jardin has studied adult development and aging for the past nine years and says research is continually shedding new light on scientists’ understanding of the brain. We sat down with him to hear why he’s so excited to bring this research to a wider audience in his podcast.

Why did you decide to launch your own podcast about the brain?

There’s a lot of great research going on in brain health, but the scientific journals it’s published in are not widely accessible to the public. The podcast allows me to talk to experts about their research so everyone can learn more about the work they’re doing and how it affects the brain and aging.

Were you at all nervous about the fact that you didn’t have experience in podcasting?

Not really. Prior to the pandemic, I gave talks to groups around the country about aging, both for academic audiences and the general public. During the pandemic, I couldn’t do that anymore. The podcast gives me a way to reach an audience without leaving my home. I record them on Zoom, so the technology is easy to use.

Do you think there are misconceptions about older adults and brain health?

There are many misunderstandings about how our brains work as we age. For example, some widely held beliefs are incorrect. One such belief is that older adults don’t continue to learn. We know they do. Older adults are good problem solvers, and they have lower levels of depression and anxiety when coping with problems. Another stereotype is that older adults are negative. They actually pay more attention to positive information than to negative information. Older adults also have larger vocabularies, and their memories make them excellent sources of information and what we generally call wisdom.

So the podcast covers many of the common questions people may have about their own brains?

Yes, the podcast is fairly expansive and covers any aspect of interest in brain health, but my primary goal is to shed light on research in longevity and maintenance of cognitive and social functioning – the things you would generally consider to be healthy aging.

Are your students involved in the project?

I try to keep my students involved. They help me pick guests, and this often results in connections with researchers where they can learn more about graduate schools.

Has your audience grown?

We have several thousand listeners now, but I’d like to see listener growth year over year. The show is available on all major platforms. My real goal, however, is to give back to the community and make scientific research available to the community. I’d like people to understand that the aging process isn’t something to fear. That’s my main mission. In fact, the senior years could be the best time in many people’s lives.