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Baby Boomers, Memory and Wisdom

The NYT Magazine today is devoted to the topic of Can Science Tell us Who Grows Wiser.

It may have been even better had the question been, “What Science Tells us About How we Can Grow Wiser”, but it is a pretty good issue anyway.

A very good article on The Older–and–Wiser Hypothesis. Quotes: 

  • One of the most interesting areas of neuroscience research involves looking at the way people regulate their emotions and how that regulation can change over the course of a lifetime. Laura Carstensen of Stanford University has produced a substantial body of research over the past two decades showing that the ability to focus on emotional control is tightly linked to a person’s sense of time and that older people in general seem to have a better feel for keeping their emotions in balance. This has emerged in part from a long-running research project known informally at Stanford as the “beeper study.”
  • What the Stanford researchers have found — in the laboratory and out in the world — is that despite the well-documented cognitive declines associated with advancing age, older people seem to have figured out how to manage their emotions in a profoundly important way. Compared with younger people, they experience negative emotions less frequently, exercise better control over their emotions and rely on a complex and nuanced emotional thermostat that allows them to bounce back quickly from adverse moments. Indeed, they typically strive for emotional balance, which in turn seems to affect the ways their brains process information from their environment.

We met Prof. Laura L. Carstensen recently. As we write in Stanford Media X: “Cells that fire together wire together”, her main message was that

  • Technology & Science has been improving Biology for the last 150 years, and now we need to focus on how to help people remain physically fit and mentally sharp as we age
  • We need to redefine “aging”. Nowadays, there are many role models in their 70s and 80s that show how age is not an obstacle for being active contributors in society

Other good articles in the NY TImes Magazine:

Related previous posts:

Baby Boomers, Healthy Aging and Job Performance

The way we age now

The Upside of Aging-WSJ

Emotional self-regulation and biofeedback

And, in general, you may enjoy browsing our Brain Fitness Topics

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