instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads

Auckland Writers Festival Free Event

Join me at the Auckland Writers Festival on Sunday, May 18th, 11.30-12.30 at the Aotea Centre as I talk about three of my most fascinating neuropsychology cases. It’s a FREE session! Click for link​a> Read More 
2 Comments
Post a comment

Dance So There Is A Tomorrow!

Dance 'til you drop
I posted this last year just before Valentine's Day on "Psychology Today" and it struck a chord (no pun intended!) for many people. So I thought I'd share it this Valentine's Day with my own readers. (Unfortunately there is no Beatles dance here on our island this time, and with all the hype about it being their 50th anniversary in the USA, there should be.)

February 14th is Valentine’s Day, and perhaps you will go dancing. It is summer in the Southern Hemisphere, and on the beautiful island off the coast of New Zealand that I call home, the population increases from the usual 800 residents to a few thousand, as campers and hikers and holiday-makers come to relax and enjoy the bush, beach and sea. This summer, there was a new activity; a Beatles dance. Now they weren’t THE Beatles of course, but they were a great substitute. It was a raging success: a hot night, a beautiful location, and everybody danced and danced and danced. Not waltzes and foxtrots, but freestyle. Partners, no partner, it didn’t matter. The average age of the dancers, I would guess, was around 55, with a range from 12 to 80. Because everyone was so intent on dancing, and singing along with the songs from their own teenage and young adult years, the consumption of alcohol was considerably reduced, compared to a non-dancing social occasion. Many people were dressed in seventies gear, and we all know that as soon as we dress differently, we act differently and feel differently.

I wonder how many of the dancers knew they were engaging in the one physical activity that seems to beat all others in staving off cognitive decline and delaying the onset of dementia? A research article published in 2003 suggested just that (The New England Journal of Medicine, 2003, Volume 348, pp 2508-2516).
The long-term Bronx Aging Study, which began in 1980, looked at the leisure activities of 469 community dwellers aged 75 to 85 years with no signs of dementia when they were enrolled, to see if either physical or cognitive leisure activities delayed cognitive decline and dementia. A number of cognitive activities, including reading, playing board games, doing crossword puzzles at least four times a week, and playing musical instruments were associated with a lower risk of developing dementia over the next five or so years, but the only physical activity that decreased the risk of dementia was frequent dancing. Frequent dancing reduced the likelihood of developing dementia by a mind-boggling 76%, which was higher than any other cognitive or physical activity studied. Physical activities that did not appear to delay dementia onset included walking, bicycling and swimming. This was an observational rather than a carefully controlled study, with many inter-related factors to take account of, so one can’t take this as the last word on the matter. And there were physical activities, such as golf and tennis, that were not included because fewer than 10% of the senior citizens participated in them. Read More 
Be the first to comment

Weekend NZ Herald Story

Photo: Greg Bowker
Enjoyed a lovely day with NZ Herald senior journalist, Andrew Stone and senior photographer, Greg Bowker, when they flew over to our island to interview me about "Trouble In Mind" and our off-grid lifestyle for the Weekend Herald on 13th Oct. Greg was very taken with the skull, complete with brain, that (who?) looks down at me from the top shelf in our library. Poor Yorick, alas, was somewhat dusty, but at least he wasn't 12 feet under. Click here for Link to the story​a>  Read More 
1 Comments
Post a comment

Aussie Radio Interview

Listen to me in conversation with Aussie media personality Eoin Cameron, on ABC Perth radio:
( http://blogs.abc.net.au/wa/2013/08/tales-from-a-neuropsychologists-casebook.html) Or Click Here for Link​a>
Be the first to comment

'Trouble In Mind' Australia Happenings

Australian Cover
With the Australian edition of my book out, it is exciting to read nice reviews in the major newspapers, and to have the opportunity to talk with Australian radio hosts. Here's the Sydney Sunday Herald review.
Trouble in Mind
Jenni Ogden
(Scribe, $29.95)

If you loved reading
the case histories
of Oliver Sacks, you’ll be similarly
engrossed by the tales told by
neuropsychologist Jenni Ogden. Read More 
Be the first to comment

Holidays 2013! The Whitsunday Writers' Festival, and Home

Fabulous writers and great dinner companions, L.A.Larkin and Anita Heiss
In July, from bush camping on a remote island to a luxury hotel: we went to the Whitsunday Writers’ Festival at the Coral Sea Resort, where our beautiful room hung over the mangroves bordering the bay. It was a tiny, exclusive festival where the guest speakers almost outnumbered the guests. As a consequence we got to know everyone and had a fantastic time. All the speakers were outstanding, and also a lot of fun. Anita Heiss, one of Australia’s best-known aboriginal writers was a delight to listen to. Her latest book ‘Am I Black Enough for You’, was a finalist in the 2012 Human Rights Awards, and she and her book have been the centre of considerable controversy because of a recent landmark court case Anita and her peers won against racist journalism in Australia. Other speakers included Tony Ayling, an expert on coral reefs, who had us riveted with his story of how he escaped from the jaws of a saltwater crocodile off Lizard Island, where we camped for 10 nights last year; Joyce Morgan and Conrad Walters, both journalists and authors of the fascinating ‘The Jewel of the Silk Road’; and Louisa (L.A.) Larkin, who writes environmental thrillers, and, like Anita, is seriously good fun at dinner parties. The other participants (like John and I, not speakers) were all equally good value, and hopefully we will keep in touch with many of them and with the speakers.  Read More 
2 Comments
Post a comment

Holidays, 2013! Auckland Writers' and Readers' Festival

May, 2013, and the beginning of almost 3 months of R & R. First visiting kids and grandkids in Christchurch and Whangaparaoa, then the wonderful Auckland Writers’ and Readers’ Festival where I went to 17 sessions. Great sessions included Jackie Kay (what a personality she has, and I'd already read her biography and a poetry book); Ramona Koval (another delightful personality in her own session, and having her interview Kate Atkinson made that session extra special I think); Tragic Brilliance (both biographers fascinating); Mr. Cohen revealed (again the personality of Sylvie Simmons shining through, especially when she sang at the end); and Edward Rutherfurd. I think the magic lies more with the personalities of the authors rather than the interviewer, mainly because good interviewers ask the great questions and have the flexibility to follow leads, but then fade into the background. The authors who added that special touch, such as Jackie Kay with her wonderful readings (the Scots accent helped!), Sylvie Simmons with her song, and William Dalrymple with his scruffy clothes and irrepressible enthusiasm, held the audience from start to finish.  Read More 
Be the first to comment

Holidays 2013! Camping on the Whitsundays

Coffee time at Crayfish Beach
After the Auckland Writers' and Readers' Festival off we flew to our winter bolt-hole; 6 weeks at Marlin Cove Resort, Trinity Beach, north of Cairns, where amongst other things (mainly bird watching) our friends who manage the resort, Derek and Kerry, treated us to not one, but two bottles of Grange. Then a drive south to the Whitsundays, camping at National Park campsites on the way. At Airlie Beach, we discovered that the lovely young woman who booked us into Magnum’s Backpackers for a night knew our son Joachim; her husband had worked with him in the UK 15 years ago and they had all shared adventures in Morocco. The next day we put our camping gear and 40 litres of water onto a boat which dropped us off on Crayfish Beach, a boat-access-only idyllic bay on Hook Island in the Whitsundays. There we camped in splendid isolation for 4 nights, totally alone and with no way of communicating with the outside world. Not another boat or person did we see, except on the far horizon. We did share the outer part of our tent with a very friendly and cute brown rat, whom we fed with chocolate. The good snorkelling didn’t last as the gale-force winds out to sea (which did not reach our sheltered bay) made visibility poor, but never mind. We were picked up by the same boat which sped back in 40 km/ph winds and hugh seas to Shute Harbour. It was a special experience (the isolated beach camping, not the boat trip back), and one that must surely be almost extinct anywhere else on the globe. (Aside: I have never been to the Whitsundays before and they are forever linked in my mind with the consummation scene between the priest, Father Ralph, and Meggie in Colleen McCullough’s ‘The Thorn Birds’. 1977 that book was written; imagine the furore it would cause if it were published now, given the horrors of the catholic church’s paedophile priests. Perhaps it would pass muster because Father Ralph waited until Meggie was all growed up.) Read More 
Be the first to comment

Is Concussion Really a Problem in Contact Sports?

Are brief concussions really a problem? This is a question that has been debated, especially in relation to contact sports, for at least 50 years. Research studies are numerous and their results not entirely consistent. Some trumpet that mild concussions on the sports field cause no long-lasting damage to the brain, and others caution that even mild concussions need to be taken seriously, as in some cases they can and do lead to months and sometimes years of debilitating problems with fatigue, poor ability to concentrate, poor memory, irritability, hypersensitivity to noise, lowered tolerance to alcohol and roller-coaster emotions. This group of symptoms has been called the post-concussional syndrome (PCS), and it is a syndrome everyone wants to avoid.  Read More 
Be the first to comment

Oliver Sacks in Conversation with Danielle Ofri

Oliver Sacks
Recently I watched one of the most fascinating interviews I have seen for a long time. True, I began with a positive bias as the interview was conducted by Danielle Ofri, and she was talking to Oliver Sacks about his hallucinations and other intriguing brain, mind, and people insights. These two doctors and writers are at the top of my favourite lists for both occupations. It was a lovely interview, relaxed and charming. Oliver Sacks is one of those people who defines wisdom and humility, always with a twinkle in his eye, and makes one believe that age is no barrier to living life to the full. If you want a treat, watch the interview on the NYU School of Medicine website:http://school.med.nyu.edu/humanisticmed (scroll to “News” section) Read More 
Be the first to comment