Brain Capital: A New Investment Approach for Late-Life Well-Being

For Immediate Release
May 18, 2022

Contact: Todd Kluss
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Within many societies and cultures around the world, older adults are too often undervalued and underappreciated, according to a new article in the journal Innovation in Aging. This exacerbates many key challenges that older adults may face. It also undermines the many positive aspects of late life that are of value at both an individual and societal level.

In the article, “Investing in Late-Life Brain Capital,” a global team of experts propose a new approach to elevate health and well-being by optimizing late-life brain capital.

“We define brain capital as neuroscience-inspired technologies that integrate and optimize outcomes for mental health, brain health, education, diversity, and positive psychology — including resilience, wisdom, and creativity,” said Harris Eyre, MD, PhD, co-lead of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development’s Neuroscience Inspired Policy Initiative. “Brain capital has the potential to introduce a paradigm shift to our understanding and agency in brain health.”

Eyre is the paper’s senior author, as well as co-founder of the PRODEO Institute and a senior fellow for brain capital with the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute.

“This paper highlights and seeks to increase and tailor investments into late-life brain capital, which prioritizes brain skills and brain health in a brain economy (aka a knowledge economy),” noted Walter D. Dawson, DPhil, senior fellow at the Global Brain Health Institute and first author on the paper. “It will unlock and capitalize on the value of aging for individuals, organizations, and societies. Older adults have accrued tremendous wisdom over their lives, wisdom which can help us solve modern challenges.”

Dawson and Eyre now co-instruct a Global Brain Health Institute summer course on brain capital, where they teach fellows from around the world about the latest developments in this new field.

“Millions of older adults experience elder mistreatment each year at great social and economic costs,” noted Brad Cannell, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health. “The preservation of social connection and cognitive function representing two of the most promising targets for primary prevention of elder mistreatment today — both of which are key constructs of the brain capital model.”

The paper argues that environmental, social, and governance (ESG) approaches have driven positive business and societal value. Businesses use metrics to measure their ESG performance in order for them to be transparent with consumers and stakeholders. This information can help companies make better decisions about their business practices. The coauthors believe ESG measures are incomplete. Incorporating brain capital into ESG frameworks would provide a more comprehensive, robust approach to create long-term positive productivity and wellbeing impacts for the economy, the environment, and all stakeholders.

Additional co-authors include Howard Fillit, MD, from the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation; Jeff Cummings, MD, ScD, from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas; Patrick Brannelly from the Alzheimer's Disease Data Initiative (an initiative of Gates Ventures); William Hynes of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development; Antonella Santuccione Chadha from the Women’s Brain Project and Biogen; Chip Reynolds III, MD, from the University of Pittsburgh; Eric Lenze, MD, PhD, of Washington University in St Louis; Lori Frank, PhD, of the RAND Corporation; Facundo Manes, MD, for INECO; Dilip V. Jeste, MD, from the University of California, San Diego; Erin Smith from Global Brain Health Institute; Laura Booi, PhD, from Global Brain Health Institute and Newcastle University; Maia Mosse, MD, from Stanford University; Helen Lavretsky from the University of California at Los Angeles; Rym Ayadi, PhD, of the Euro-Mediterranean Economists Association; Sandra Bond Chapman, PhD, of the Center for BrainHealth; Ian H. Robertson, PhD, from Global Brain Health Institute and the Center for BrainHealth; Lori Rubenstin from ARACY; Jorge Jraissati from IESE; Agustin Ibanez, PhD, from GBHI and the Cognitive Neuroscience Center; Anitha Rao, MD, from Neurocern; Michael Berk, MD, PhD, from Deakin University; and Eric Storch, PhD, from Baylor College of Medicine.


Innovation in Aging is a peer-reviewed publication of The Gerontological Society of America (GSA), the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society — and its 5,500+ members — is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA’s structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society.