Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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To maintain lifelong mental acuity, avoid early retirement and repetitive jobs

retirement_roadThis is your brain on retirement — not nearly as sharp, studies are finding (The Washington Post):

“Retiring at 55 and spending the rest of your life relaxing on the front porch may sound appealing, but if you want your brain to keep working, it’s probably not a good idea. Mounting evidence shows that staying in the workforce into old age is good not only for our bank accounts, but also for our health and mental acuity Read the rest of this entry »

Why retirement planning should include mental fitness

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Are You Mentally Fit Enough to Plan for Retirement? (Money):

“In this era of “self-directed” retirement (no pensions, you make all the investment choices) postponing making a real plan poses a particular risk to future security. Not only are the logistics of planning hard enough—when to collect Social Security, how to budget for expenses, what to do with savings—but the decline in cognition that Read the rest of this entry »

Want to train your brain? Work as a physician, air traffic controller, financial analyst (or similar)

Brain Firing NeuronsMentally stimulating jobs keep your mind sharp post-retirement (Tech Times):

“If you want to stay sharp in your golden years, it’s best to get the hard yards in early – a new study has found that people with mentally demanding jobs fare better in the years after retirement….Mental acuity and memory retention was found to be higher in retirees who had spent their careers in mentally stimulating roles, such as Read the rest of this entry »

Augmenting lifelong performance with deliberate practice

Alums-danceWith Willing Spirit, a Reprise for Ailey Dancers (The New York Times):

  • “The voice on the phone belonged to Masazumi Chaya, the associate artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and he had a startling proposition. Would she — Elizabeth Roxas-Dobrish, 55 years old, Read the rest of this entry »

Promoting Healthy, Meaningful Aging Through Social Involvement: Building an Experience Corps

(Editor’s note: Pathways responsible for higher-order thinking in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), or executive center of the brain, remain vulnerable throughout life—during critical early-life developmental windows, when the PFC fully matures in the early 20s, and finally from declines associated with old age. At all ages, physical activity and PFC-navigated social connections are essential components to maintaining brain health. The Experience Corps, a community-based social-engagement program, partners seniors with local schools to promote purpose-driven involvement. Participating seniors have exhibited immediate short-term gains in brain regions vulnerable to aging, such as the PFC, indicating that people with the most to lose have the most to gain from environmental enrichment.)

Over the last decade, scientists made two key discoveries that reframed our understanding of the adult brain’s potential to benefit from lifelong environmental enrichment. First, they learned that the adult brain remains plastic; it can generate new neurons in response to physical activity and new experiences. Second, they confirmed the importance of social connectedness to late-life cognitive, psychological, and physical health. The integration of these findings with our understanding of individuals’ developmental needs throughout life underscores the importance of the “social brain.” The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is particularly integral to navigating complex social behaviors and hierarchies over the life course. Read the rest of this entry »

Report: Boomers’ Ability to Make Financial Decisions Often Declines With Age

(Editor’s Note: this timely new report illustrates the need for innovative brain fitness interventions focused on maintaining if not enhancing targeted cognitive functionality, such as driving safety or financial decision-making, leveraging lifelong neuroplasticity and cognitive reserve. What the report presents as inexorable, somewhat genetically pre-programmed decline, it is not.)

BMO Retirement Institute Report: Boomers’ Ability to Make Financial Decisions Often Declines With Age (Market Watch):

– “The BMO Retirement Institute released a report today which raises awareness of the potential impact on aging Canadians of declining cognitive abilities – often caused by Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia – and describes how this decline can affect their ability to make financial decisions.” Read the rest of this entry »

Longevity, Conscientiousness and Work

There’s an excellent article in the New York Times (Eighty Years Along, a Longevity Study Still Has Ground to Cover) about a very worthy new book based on a fascinating series of research studies: The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study is the book where UC-Riverside researchers Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin draw key lessons from an eight-decade-long Stanford University Terman study of 1,500 people.

Quotes from the article:

– Many assume biology is the critical factor in longevity. If your parents lived to be 85, you probably will, too. Not so, Dr. Friedman said. Read the rest of this entry »

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