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Home » The Science of Lifespan — And The Impact of Your Five Senses: Christi Gendron (Transcript)

The Science of Lifespan — And The Impact of Your Five Senses: Christi Gendron (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of neurobiologist Christi Gendron’s talk titled “The Science of Lifespan — And The Impact of Your Five Senses” at TED 2024 conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


I’m here to tell you that what we sense, meaning what we see, smell, hear, taste and touch, can impact how long we live. Now this may seem extraordinary, but it really isn’t. Let’s say that you wake up one morning and are trying to decide whether to go to an amusement park. One of the very first things you might do is to step outside and check the weather.

When you do, you see that the sky is blue, that the sun is out. You hear that the birds are chirping. You feel how warm it is on your skin. Based on all of this information, you decide it is a perfect day for going to the park.

You have used your senses to impact your decision. Now gathering this information does more than simply impact your behavior. It also can affect your emotions as well as how your body physically responds.

Sensory Perception and Physiological Responses

To demonstrate, let’s say you’ve arrived at that amusement park, and one of the very first things that you see is a roller coaster. You see the speed with which it moves. You see the twists and turns it takes. You see the terrified look on the riders’ faces.

You hear their screams. Even right here, right now, this sensory event may be causing you to feel anxious or even excited, feelings that are associated with butterflies in your stomach, a racing heartbeat, even sweating palms. Your senses have caused your body to change. This is an example of how a very short sensory perceptive event can impact you.

What do you imagine a much longer sensory event might do to you? This is the question that I am interested in addressing. And what scientists like me have discovered is that prolonged sensory events can impact the lifespan of an animal.

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