Friday, January 13, 2012


Professor Ellen Langer

Professor Ellen Langer
What if it were possible to turn back time? Could it be that we have the power to think ourselves young again? That’s the extraordinary claim of an experiment first conducted 30 years ago which the BBC is now re-staging.

Six well-loved celebrities in their 70s and 80s – Liz Smith, Lionel Blair, Dickie Bird, Sylvia Syms, Derek Jameson and Kenneth Kendall – have agreed to turn back the clock to 1975 when they were in their heyday. For one week they will live, work and eat in the 1970s to see if they can regain their youth.

The Original Experiment

In 1981 psychologist Ellen Langer from Harvard University conducted a unique experiment to find out what would happen when a group of eight elderly men were given the experience of living 20 years earlier. She and her team created a living environment complete with food, films, photos from the period. The group discussed news, politics and sport in the present tense as if they had travelled back in time.

Astonishingly the group became physically and psychologically younger. Their hearing, grip strength and manual dexterity improved. Memory and IQ scores also improved. Because their minds were actively engaged in living 20 years earlier, their bodies seemed to follow. Ellen believes this is a demonstration of how our bodies don't let us down as we get older, it's our minds that accept the labels of ageing. Freeing ourselves from that state of mind can turn back the clock.

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