Archive for March, 2014

On growing old(er)

March 15, 2014

OK: I’m no spring chicken, as my late stepmother would have put it.

But as I get older, on the blacker days, I’m left wondering whether the body will go, leaving me a mind that can still think, but a body that can’t do much else, or the mind will depart, leaving a body that’s able enough, but unable to do anything useful because the mind that energised it has gone. Or, of course, both.

On Wednesday, I went to the Neuroscience day at Edinburgh,¬†which was good, if depressing (was I the oldest person there? No, but certainly in the last decile of the age spectrum – mostly it was bright young PhD students, and young post-docs, working on many aspects of neural degeneration: aye there’s money in that, timor mortis conturbat me). There was a good talk on the nature of neurodegeneration in dementia (Dr Tara Spires-Jones, Centre for Cognitive and Neural Systems), but there was precious little in it about prevention or treatment: though, of course, understanding mechanism is ventral to developing treatments.

So what can an old Prof do? Drink is one possibility, a form of Lethe both available and legal, but the pubs here are depressing (or perhaps it’s just me this evening). I’m still working, writing, researching spectrotemporal Gabor filters for classifying sounds, for example, plus the odd bit of Neuroinformatics. But for how long? Are there plaques forming in my brain as I write this? Are there cancer cells in my prostate happily and indefinitely multiplying? Neither is a cheerful thought. Still, I’ve got some decent ¬†malt whisky in the cupboard (if only I could remember which cupboard, or what a cupboard is, or what malt whisky is for, or … not funny) … Talisker and Lindt Chocolate: a wonderful mix. Feeling better already.

Nonetheless, I think I’d better go and sleep now. Morning’s usually seem better: if only because one has survived another night.