Research banner

Welcome to

The Ageing Lab

Exploring interventions to improve the health and wellbeing of older people


Keeping sharp at the Edinburgh Fringe

Next month, Professor Alan Gow will be returning to the Fringe as part of Edinburgh Beltane's Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas"This Show Will Make You Sharper!" is on August 10th (1.30pm) and 14th (8.10pm). You can watch a short trailer and read the full show description below, and download the flyer here. Follow updates on the show's development via Twitter using the hashtag #MakeYouSharper and buy your tickets at

This Show Will Make You Sharper!: Staying sharp as you age is easy… just "eat this super-berry", “do these five simple things” or "play this game to beat dementia"! But what if it’s not as simple as the hype suggests? If we need to put in a bit of effort to keep our brains healthy, would we be willing to do that, and do we even know what those challenging things might be? Join Alan Gow (Heriot-Watt University) to explore what we know about how our thinking skills change as we age, and what we might do to stay sharp..

July 2019

Older people are feeling the wind in their hair through cycling

A cycling initiative that brings older people to the great outdoors has issued a new report.

The report explains the benefits of a scheme that takes older people living in care homes out for a cycle - on specially designed trishaws.

A Heriot-Watt research team has been working with Cycling Without Age since the first group was established in Scotland – with a trial set up in Falkirk in 2017.

Researchers will continue the work looking at the mental, physical, health and wellbeing benefits – as well as the effects on mood, anxiety, social engagement, loneliness and isolation.


June 2019

The challenges of ageing must be faced by the young, top scientists tell new Commission

Society must tackle the challenges presented by ageing in every generation – not leave them until old age.

This is the key conclusion of a major new Evidence Review Report entitled Transforming the Future of Ageing, published today (27 June) by SAPEA and led by the Federation of European Academies of Medicine.

The report is destined for the desks of the new European Commissioners expected to take office later in 2019. It reviews the best evidence on what public policies might help EU countries to achieve inclusive, fair and sustainable health and social care in the future.

The authors, leading scientists nominated by academies across Europe, conclude that the ageing process needs to be transformed – and that the best way to improve life outcomes in old age is to anticipate and tackle them in youth and middle age.


June 2019

The 120 Year Formula: How ageing is now being treated as a disease

Much of the news around the science of life-extension seems futuristic and sensational enough to be taken with a pinch of salt – overblown talk of living for 1,000 years, or cybernetic immortality. But when Sue Armstrong, an Edinburgh-based science author with decades of experience, says that there are drugs already on trial that could slow the process of ageing, it’s worth paying attention. When she talks of increasing the healthspan, rather than the lifespan, of the population, it’s clear she’s describing a serious endeavour.


March 2019

Age UK launch new brain health quiz

Age UK quizTo celebrate Brain Awareness Week, Age UK launched a new quiz asking "Do you think you know how your thinking skills might change as they get older? Give your brain a workout and see how your answers compare to other people's from across the UK". The quiz is based on questions included in our "What Keeps You Sharp?" survey, completed by over 3,000 people. Read more about Age UK's work supporting research into brain health: How our thinking skills change with age; then take the quiz: How well do you know your brain?

Brain Awareness Week is an international initiative to "encourage you to organize an activity in your community to advance public understanding about the brain and the promise of brain research". Other activities throughout the week included a social media campaign from @TheAgeingLab sharing brain health tips, a CPD session with teachers from Extend Exercise about links between physical activity and brain health, and an appearance by Dr Alan Gow at the Glasgow Comedy Festival!

March 2019

Can new activities help an ageing brain?

Can taking up a new activity help our thinking skills as we age?

That’s a key question for researchers interested in cognitive ageing, the field that explores how thinking skills change over the life course, and what factors might be associated with those changes.

The Ageing Lab at Heriot-Watt University’s Department of Psychology have made it their mission to find out how new activities could affect our thinking skills as we age.


February 2019

Life of Brain

We are living longer and, for many of us, changes in the way we think, process information and remember things, are becoming a major concern as we get older. People who retain their thinking skills are likely to stay healthier for longer, so identifying the lifestyle choices that benefit brain health has never been more important.


January 2019

New activity?

Participant recruitment posterCan taking up a new activity help improve our thinking skills as we age?

If you’re aged 65 or over and would like to help us find out, please get in touch.

If you know anyone who might be interested in getting involved in our research, you can also download and share a poster and flyer.

January 2019

You can read other news items in the News archive: 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014.