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Successful Aging: A Neuroscientist Explores the Power and Potential of Our Lives Hardcover – January 7, 2020

4.4 out of 5 stars 554 ratings

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From the Publisher

Editorial Reviews


Praise for Successful Aging

“Predictions are perilous, but here's one I can make with certainty: Tomorrow you and I will be older than we are today. That’s why you, I, and everyone we know needs this remarkable book. With a scientist’s rigor and a storyteller’s flair, Daniel Levitin offers a fresh approach to growing older. He debunks the idea that aging inevitably brings infirmity and unhappiness and instead offers a trove of practical, evidence-based guidance for living longer and better.  SUCCESSFUL AGING is an essential book for the rest of your life.”—Daniel H. Pink, author of When and Drive 

“Daniel Levitin explores a wealth of information on the complex biology of aging and presents it in an engaging and accessible manner. Writing with insight, compassion and gentle humor he shows us the positive side of the aging process and how to make the most of the future that awaits us. Essential reading for baby boomers and those who love them.”—Drs. Pamela Harzband & Jerome Groopman, Professors, Harvard Medical School, authors of Your Medical Mind

"A superb user's manual for aging bodies and minds, providing an evidence-based discussion of issues including personality, memory, intelligence, and emotions."

"A clear-eyed, insightful overview of the neurophysiological healthspan."--Nature

“This is the book I need now. This is probably the book YOU need now. Levitin beautifully weaves hard science with more subtle, subjective agents of change—compassion, friendship, the redemptive power of work—into a refreshing guide for those of us navigating the penultimate stage of life.”—Rosanne Cash, Four-time Grammy winning singer and songwriter, author of Composed

“A wise, insightful, and beautifully written book on how we can navigate the waters of time. Helpful for readers at any age.”—Daniel Gilbert, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of Stumbling on Happiness

“If you're planning to age, read this book. Wise, sensitive, and insightful, Levitin shares the tools that allow you to optimize the process.”—David Eagleman, Stanford University neuroscientist, New York Times bestselling author of The Brain and Incognito
“Growing old may be the only event in life that is both desired and feared. Daniel Levitin alleviates the fear with sound advice that can tilt the balance so that we have more healthy years and fewer sick ones. The brilliance of this book is that Levitin not only tells us what to do and what not to do—he gracefully and eloquently shares the science behind how we can change our minds and brains, and how even small changes can reap large benefits. Share this book—especially with anyone you hope to grow old with.”—Diane Halpern, past-president of the American Psychological Association, professor, Claremont-McKenna College

“Here is a “how to” book for everyone's favorite alternative to death—aging. Bringing together the fields of developmental psychology and personality theory, Dr. Levitin shows us how to reach old age as the best version of ourselves: engaged, wise, and creative, emotionally resilient, cognitively flexible, and happy. SUCCESSFUL AGING is the fountain of youth, although you don't drink it, you read it.”—Eric Kaplan, Emmy-winning comedy writer, The Simpsons, David Letterman, The Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon

“…this book's breadth is impressive. Excellent popular science in the service of fending off aging.”Kirkus Reviews

“Levitin's narrative ease is once again on display as he masterfully lays out the evidence that what we thought of as old age is in fact a unique developmental stage in which extraordinary contributions become possible.  These years can include challenges, but they can also reach altogether new heights that neuroscientists are just beginning to see.  Successful Aging is key to a new era of opportunity and joy.”—Stanley Prusiner, M.D. Nobel Laureate, Director of the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, University of California, San Francisco

“As always, Dan shows his great facility for pulling together different parts of our field and explaining them in a way that makes them accessible to all.”—Brenda Milner, at age 101, professor of neurology, McGill University, professor of psychology, Montreal Neurological Institute, winner of the Kavli Prize in neuroscience, founder of the field of neuropsychology

“With more and more of the population living longer, Successful Aging is a timely and relevant guide that will appeal to all age groups, giving us the motivation to keep our minds active and engaged.”BookPage

“Dan Levitin’s latest is an inspiring, hopeful, and useful message—expounding on the best lessons science and art can teach us about how to expand your potential as you age.”—Ben Folds, recording artist and New York Times Best Seller author of A Dream About Lightning Bugs

“In my line of work, good maps are the difference between life and death. Dan’s book is an extraordinary “map” to a place each of us eventually journeys to. In it, he explains and demystifies the aging process in layman’s terms. Don’t grow old without it.”—General Stanley McChrystal, U.S. Army (Ret.)

“We are living longer than past humans, and with this comes undeniable challenges to our physical and mental well-being.  Building on the psychology of personality types and developmental neuroscience, Daniel Levitin will enthrall you with this fascinating story of how the human brain ages, as he reveals just how rewarding our later years can be.”—Joseph LeDoux, professor of Neural Science at NYU and director of the Emotional Brain Institute at the Nathan Kline Institute, author of Anxious, and The Deep History of Ourselves
“Society for too long has underestimated the value of people in their 70s, 80s, and 90s. Working in tandem with younger colleagues, the political, economic, and creative power we can contribute together could well trigger solutions to our biggest global problems. Daniel Levitin superbly defines the new longevity in a book that will change the way you think about aging.”—Vicente Fox, 55th President of Mexico
“A tour through a huge scientific literature, full of potentially life-changing nuggets, and laced with compelling personal experiences. The good news is that aging need not be dreaded but can be a time of health and creativity in the decades beyond 70—and Levitin’s got the science to back it up. Read this book. At any age.”—Michael S. Gazzaniga, director of the Sage Center at UC Santa Barbara, author of The Consciousness Instinct
“This evolving narrative builds as new topics are introduced in reaction to the previous topic, like chord changes in a great piece of music. Levitin's not just offering a compelling narrative, but guiding the reader’s imagination to a larger view of things—and that feels masterful.—Mike Lankford, author of Becoming Leonardo

Successful Aging is an ambitious and much-needed call for a “new truth” about aging in the 21st century. Daniel Levitin uses what we now about brain science to make a powerful case for positively transforming how we think about aging. This is a fascinating and vital contribution to doing just that.”—George Vradenburg, Chairman & Co-Founder, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s 

“An eloquent spokesperson for our field. Levitin writes about the brain with an ease and familiarity that is captivating.”—the late David Hubel, Nobel Laureate for work in neuroplasticity

“An excellent perspective on aging and aging well. Dan’s ability to combine science with personal insights, and reflections on various experiences of aging, captures the complexity of the subject, while still being easy to read. This fascinating book is especially important for young adults to understand all the aspects that go into healthy aging and to know that they can influence the outcome, starting at any time.”—Concetta Tomaino, Executive director of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function, and Associate, Albert Einstein College of Medicine 

“Dan is a long-time collaborator with us here at Salk, and in Successful Aging, he offers a compelling new look at the promise and effects of neuroplasticity. He's at his best here, communicating difficult scientific concepts in a way that anyone can understand. This is why his research talks at the Salk Institute are enormously popular, and everyone is abuzz about them for many months afterwards.”Ursula Bellugi, Ph.D., Director, Laboratory for Cognitive Neuroscience, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies

“Levitin’s book is quite extraordinary, literally. I rarely, if ever, have seen such a rigorous treatment of a health subject.”—David B. Teplow, Professor of Neurology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and Editor, Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science

“Levitin believes the most important factors in predicting how well we might age are conscientiousness, our childhood experiences, exercise (especially outdoors), and social interactions. His most sage suggestion, nestled at the end of the book, is timeless: ‘Practice gratitude for what you have.’”Booklist

About the Author

Daniel J. Levitin, PhD, is a neuroscientist, cognitive psychologist, and bestselling author. He is Founding Dean of Arts & Humanities at the Minerva Schools at KGI in San Francisco, and Professor Emeritus of psychology and neuroscience at McGill University. He is the author of This Is Your Brain on Music, The World in Six Songs, The Organized Mind, and A Field Guide to Lies. He divides his time between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Dutton; Illustrated edition (January 7, 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 528 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1524744182
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1524744182
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.68 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.24 x 1.69 x 9.3 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 554 ratings

Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
554 global ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on January 18, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on March 18, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on January 15, 2020
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4.0 out of 5 stars This book reinforces many of the habits that my wife and I have adopted since retirement
Reviewed in Canada on February 16, 2020
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Jehad Abu-Ulbeh
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read
Reviewed in Canada on May 27, 2021
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book
Reviewed in Canada on May 18, 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars a splendid psychology book
Reviewed in Germany on December 11, 2020
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Tom Beakbane
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensitive elegant writing about an important matter
Reviewed in Canada on December 10, 2020
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