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Agatha Christie's clever detective novels may reveal more about the inner workings of the human mind than she intended: according to Dr. Ian Lancashire at the University of Toronto, the Queen of Crime left behind hidden clues to the real-life mysteries of human aging. Dr. Kelvin Lim and Dr. Serguei Pakhomov from the University of Minnesota add to the intrigue with the story of an unexpected find in a convent archive that could someday help pinpoint very early warning signs for Alzheimer's disease and dementia. And Sister Alberta Sheridan, a 94-year-old Nun Study participant, reads an essay she wrote more than 70 years ago.

Paul Auster returns to make the case against destiny, with a chilling tale of a deadly lightning strike.


Dr. Ian Lancashire, Dr. Kelvin Lim, Dr. Sergey Pakhomov and Sister Alberta Sheridan

Comments [8]

Lori from Delray Beach Florida

Working in a retirement community, and close to the age, but not ready to retire. Addicted to pod casts , especially Radiolab, have tuned in many of the seniors living here. All of us worry of dementia , and find that our concentration is slipping away. Many residents enjoy reading simpler to the point stories, with out all the "Fluff", Maybe Agatha Christi embraced her aging process with books her readers could follow. Question: Would increased participation in Radiolab decrease my chances of developing dementia?

Apr. 05 2017 01:33 PM

What is the spooky music that plays in the Agatha Christie part of the segment, starting at about 21:00?

Oct. 02 2016 02:14 PM

Is there a way to participate in a similar test? My mother's ability to communicate has deteriorated in the past 5 years and she's not yet 50. I'm concerned that this may be very relevant and that we might be able to prepare.

Jun. 14 2014 05:12 PM
Gabriel L Epstein from Silver Spring, MD

Sirs, I greatly enjoy listening to your provocative, mind engaging broadcasts. However, I must disagree with the conclusion at the end of your just broadcast show on chance and fate or destiny. Just because a certain test suggests that a child will do well in school and life does NOT obviate the role that chance may/will plays in that childs life. He or she may have good genes and godd parentage doesn't mean that he/she won't be struck by lightening or killed in an auto accident. Obversely, just because chance plays a role in a person's life doesn't preclude the predictive p[ower of certain patterns. The mos tevolutionarily fit species can be wiped out by a sudden volcanic explosion. Thank you for your thought [rovoling shows.

Feb. 09 2014 01:31 PM
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Feb. 09 2014 01:58 AM
Jonathan from Tulsa, Ok

When listening I came to a conclusion. I've played golf my entire life, loved the game, and still I am surrounded by people who are better than me. I heard the comment, "Gretsky engaged in the game like no one else had". It gave me a new jolt to play golf. I was inspired to engage in the game in new and innovative ways. I always thought there was one series of steps to follow to become great. Years of following that one plan would get you there. I truly believed that the masters of the game like Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus, followed the same series of steps to become great. I realize now that they loved the game and engaged in the game in their own ways. In ways that no one had before and that is what made them truly great.

Oct. 16 2011 10:13 PM
Jan Wetzel from Seattle, Washington

Paul Auster's remarks did not enlighten this fascinating "Nun Study" Auster was discussing fate, and the "Nun Study" correlates a young person's grammatical use and idea density with the early warning signs of dementia. Indeed, any of the nuns in the study could have died from accident or disease when they were young---but this would not be pertinent to the underlying thesis of the study of dementia.

Dec. 29 2010 01:29 AM
Ana from Madrid, Spain.

Having listened to this broadcast I can´t help thinking if there is any possibility that the change in Agatha Christie's latest novel could be due not to the fact that she was 'ageing' but to another person writing that book.

Nov. 07 2010 12:06 PM

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