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Dementia and Optimism: Christine Bryden and Paul Bryden


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Christine Bryden was a science advisor to the prime minister and a divorced mother of three when she went to see a doctor about the severe migraines she was suffering. Shortly after,  at the age of 46, she was diagnosed with early-onset dementia.

That was in 1995. Two decades since her diagnosis, Bryden has written several books, been elected to the board of Alzheimer’s Disease International, travelled the world as an advocate in the Alzheimer’s movement and even remarried.

The progress of Bryden’s condition has been remarkably slow, allowing her to describe the day-to-day experience of dementia to professionals, policy-makers, carers and other people living with the condition. Her successful efforts to retain as much cognitive function as possible give credence to the idea of neuroplasticity and the possibility that the brain can rewire itself.

Bryden will discuss her latest book – Before I Forget, a memoir detailing her early life, her diagnosis and her advocacy work – as well as her tips for retaining brain function. She will be joined by her husband, Paul Bryden, in conversation with Natasha Mitchell.


Christine Bryden

For most of her adult life, Christine had a brilliant career as a biochemist, working in the pharmaceutical industry in the UK, for the CSIRO in Australia and then as a senior executive in the Australian public service, providing advice to the prime minister on science and technology. In 1995 she wa... Read more

Natasha Mitchell

Natasha Mitchell is a multi-award winning journalist, presenter and podcaster with the ABC, presenting flagship national programs including Life Matters (2012-2016), founder of the popular show All in the Mind (2002-12), and now a new science, culture and storytelling program, Science Friction on AB... Read more


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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the traditional owners of the land on which we work. We pay our respects to the people of the Kulin Nation and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, past and present.