Google "the aging brain" and you will find a largely sobering landscape of cognitive deterioration. But that's not the whole picture. In his book, "Major Issues in Cognitive Aging," Timothy A. Salthouse, professor of psychology and director of the Cognitive Aging Laboratory at the University of Virginia, writes, "Although there is no shortage of opinions about cognitive aging, it sometimes seems that relatively few of the claims are based on well-established empirical evidence ... assertions about cognitive aging may be influenced as much by the authors' preconceptions and attitudes as by systematic evaluations of empirical research." Salthouse makes two more significant observations about cognitive aging: Discoveries of decline in the laboratory do not necessarily correlate to success out in the real world, and there is often considerable variation among different people of the same age.
Place these findings alongside research about the power of suggestion (both deliberate and otherwise) and how response expectancies -- the ways in which we anticipate a specific outcome -- drive subsequent thoughts and behaviors that will actually help to bring that outcome to fruition. And suddenly you have a whole new narrative about the possibilities of healthy aging.