Stories about the people, science and research of the Medical Research Council.
29 Sep 2017
Using public transport and crossing the road are part of everyday life. But for older people these activities can be difficult, dangerous and put them off walking altogether. Dr Elizabeth Webb, lecturer in gerontology at the University of Southampton, explains the negative knock-on effects for health and how extending road crossing time could help.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is consulting on new draft guidelines on environmental changes which should be made to support people to be physically active.
The consultation caught my eye, since it directly relates to research I’ve published today with colleagues, funded by the MRC and the Economic and Social Research Council. [...]
Continue reading: Confidence to cross the road in time
15 Jan 2016
This week Mr John Scott, a member of the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936, was able to meet his grey and his white matter in models made by the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology (CCACE) and the National Museum of Scotland which are due to form part of a new gallery opening in summer 2016. Sylvie Kruiniger talks to CCACE’s Dr Simon Cox about the project.
(Image copyright: National Museums of Scotland)
How many people can say that they have held their own brain in their hands? In this picture, Mr Scott is doing just that. Its size, shape and folds perfectly match those housed inside his head. The 3D print of his brain’s outer surface will sit alongside a strikingly beautiful image of his white matter etched in glass at the National Museums of Scotland from summer 2016.
Mr Scott’s brain has been imaged numerous times over the past decade as part of studies of the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 (LBC1936). The team, led by Professor Ian Deary (whose office we have visited in a previous post), used different types of MRI scan generated by the University of Edinburgh’s Brain Research Imaging Centre to generate the two objects for the museum’s collection. His white matter was mapped by a diffusion tensor MRI and, for the 3D print, his cortical surface was mapped by a standard structural scan. [...]
Continue reading: Behind the picture: When Mr Scott met his brain
30 Apr 2014
Ian Deary and his standing desk
Ian Deary is Professor of Differential Psychology at the University of Edinburgh and Director of the Lifelong Health and Wellbeing-funded Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology. He showed Hazel Lambert around his huge office where airy windows framed by wood-panelled walls overlook George Square gardens.
I’d always liked standing to read if I was thinking about something, sometimes walking up and down. So I thought, why not get a standing desk? It can go up and down. It was a bit of a surprise, because once I got it I didn’t put it back down again; I do all my writing and work and reading at this standing desk and I find it very refreshing to be able to do that. I have four computer screens, making a single large one. I’ve always wanted a ‘desktop’ to be a desktop. If you have a proper desk you spread things around on it. It seemed limiting to have one little screen and to have everything piled on top of it. With four screens you can spread things around. But I think probably the best object in the whole room, are the three large windows; it’s a lovely outlook. [...]
Continue reading: What’s in a work space? Ian Deary and his unique furnishings
14 Feb 2014
How can we support older workers?
What will your working life be like in 30 years? Katie Finch, Programme Manager of the Lifelong Health and Wellbeing (LLHW) scheme, explains how a new model for building research partnerships could help find the answer.
The UK’s workforce is ageing. Recent Government changes to retirement age and state pensions mean that many more of us will be working later into our lives than we might have expected.
But can older people continue to cope with the physical and mental demands of their work? The truth is, we don’t really know; many of the challenges that working in older age will present for both employers and workers are poorly understood.
To tackle this uncharted territory, we needed a new way of working – multidisciplinary research conducted in the real world of employment. [...]
Continue reading: A workshop on working: a first for the MRC
14 Feb 2014
Children born today may have to wait until their late 70s until they can claim a pension. But how can we extend our working lives in a way that is both healthy and practical? David Armstrong, Professor of Medicine and Sociology at King’s College London and Chair of the LLHW Advisory Group of Experts, explains how a new set of funding should help researchers work that out.
It’s not news that as a population we are living longer; barely a day goes by without reference to the country’s ageing population. A number of factors have contributed to this, from changing fertility patterns in the last century, to dramatic increases in life expectancy over the past few decades because of better healthcare and nutrition.
But this good news is counterbalanced by some bad news. Children born today could expect to live until they are 100, but they may also be expected to work until they are over 70. This is because the economic and social costs of an ageing population are paid for by the younger working population, which is declining as a proportion of the population as it ages. [...]
Continue reading: Extending working lives
27 Nov 2012
The box of ‘research goodies’ the surviving participants have been receiving (Copyright: CCACE)
Ian Deary, Director of the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, is on the trail of a specific group of 76-year-olds. Here he tells us what’s so interesting about these people, and why a new MRC-administered study means they’re receiving an early Christmas parcel to help them provide extremely valuable information.
Back in 1947, Scottish researchers did something unusual. Instead of randomly selecting a group of children and testing them to get a picture of overall intelligence, they decided to test every child born in 1936. On the Wednesday 4 June 1947, more than 70,000 11-year-olds sat down to complete the Scottish Mental Survey.
But, as if that were not enough, the researchers also went one step further. They stayed in contact with the 1,208 children born on 1 February, April, June, August, October and December in 1936, visiting them at home and collecting information on their mental abilities, personality, home circumstances, health, education, occupations and interests almost yearly until they were 27. These people are known as the Six-Day Sample, or ‘Scotland in Miniature’. [...]
Continue reading: Seeking out the Six-Day Sample