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Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the UW

Explore Brain Health

The brain is everyone's business. And as we age, brain health becomes an especially important aspect of our overall health and quality of life for many of us.  

That's why the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Washington (OLLI-UW), the UW Department of Bioengineering and the Dana Foundation have joined forces to create a series of lectures about brain health. Experts in the field of neuroscience will join us to discuss a variety of topics related to our brains, cognitive functioning and physical health — in accessible and understandable terms. 

All lectures are free and open to the public — you don't have to be an OLLI-UW member to attend. Just click the RVSP button for an upcoming lecture listed below to reserve your spot. And if you can't make it in person, we'll record all the lectures and post them here shortly after the event. 

Join us as we share the wonders of the brain and the impact brain science has on our everyday lives.

Upcoming Lectures


Date: May 31, 2024, 11:00 a.m.–noon 
Location: Winthrop Public Library
Speaker: Richard Rapport, University of Washington

A concussion is the brief alteration of consciousness, but it's a lot more than that after the event. For many years, concussions were viewed as an almost trivial, brief event. However, as in many things in medicine, times have changed. In the current understanding of concussions, these changes have been largely driven by the relatively new discovery of CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which can produce major alterations in both brain architecture and behavior. Join us to hear Richard Rapport, clinical professor of neurological surgery at the UW School of Medicine, discuss the latest research on concussions. Check out additional reading.

How Do We Discern Reliable Science From Less Reliable Science?  

Date: June 18, 2024, 1–2 p.m. 
Location: Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science and Engineering  
Speaker: Jevin West, University of Washington  


Science is the greatest of human inventions. Through its norms and procedures, we have improved human health and longevity. But what about the health of science itself? And how do we discern reliable science from less reliable science, especially in the era of artificial intelligence? Turning the proverbial microscope on science itself, Jevin West, associate professor in the UW Information School, will explore some of the ways that science misinformation spreads. He'll provide a set of skills, tools and case studies you can use to identify predatory journals, statistical mishaps misplaced expertise, publication bias, hype and other issues related to misinformation. 

Recorded Lectures

Journey Into the Brain

The brain has fascinated and puzzled scientists and philosophers for thousands of years. Although we know a great deal about the brain, there is still so much more to learn. Join Eric Chudler, research associate professor in the Department of Bioengineering and the Department of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine at the UW, as he leads a fascinating interactive journey into the brain. He'll discuss the basic function and structure of the brain and addresses several common myths. His guided tour of our most important organ will offer insights into our current knowledge of the brain and suggest future directions for brain research. Check out additional reading.

Dementia & Memory Loss

Take a deep dive into the organization of the human brain and memory with Thomas Grabowski, director of the UW Medicine Memory and Brain Wellness Center. We'll pay special attention to a strengths-based reframing of Alzheimer's disease as well as leading-edge treatments available to manage it. Check out additional reading.

Getting a Good Night's Sleep: A Key to Aging Well

Take the first step toward better sleep with Michael V. Vitiello, professor emeritus of psychiatry & behavioral sciences, gerontology & geriatric medicine, and biobehavioral nursing. Learn how a good night’s sleep promotes healthy aging, why we tend to get less than we need, and the link between sleep and illness. Check out additional reading.

Alzheimer's Dementia: An Introduction to Diagnosis, Treatment & Prevention

Learn how Alzheimer's disease and other kinds of dementia are typically diagnosed and distinguished from cognitive changes that happen with normal aging. Eran Klein, a behavioral neurologist at Oregon Health and Science University and the Portland VA Medical Center, will discuss treatments for Alzheimer's disease and evidence for preventing cognitive decline later in life. Check out additional reading.

The Secret Lives of Memories

Subjectively, our memories can feel like polaroids of our lives. We snap them casually and frequently, toss them in a drawer with the others, and take them out — if we can find them among the others in the pile — as needed. Recent neuroscience research, however, reveals a more complex reality. Chantel Prat, professor in the UW Department of Psychology, and Andrea Stocco, associate professor in the UW Department of Psychology, will outline how our memories have complex, hidden lives and that much can happen to them without our conscious awareness. Discover how our memories change as we age and are compromised by disease. And learn how you can leverage what we know about memory to maximize learning and growth opportunities during your life.