By: Laurie Bartels
Back in July, I wrote a post entitled 10 Brain Tips To Teach and Learn. Those tips apply to students of any age, including adults, for ideally adults are still learners. Why is adult learning relevant in a brain-focused blog, you may wonder:
The short of it
As we age, our brain:
still forms new brain cells
can change its structure & function
finds positive stress can be beneficial; negative stress can be detrimental
can thrive on novel challenges
needs to be exercised, just like our bodies
The long of it
Adults may have a tendency to get set in their ways have been doing it this way for a long time and it works, so why change? Turns out, though, that change can be a way to keep aging brains healthy. At the April Learning & the Brain conference, the theme of which was neuroplasticity, I attended several sessions on adult learning. Here’s what the experts are saying.
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Interesting article: Want a job at Google? Try these brainteasers first (CNN)
Quote: “Seemingly random questions like these have become commonplace in Silicon Valley and other tech outposts, where companies aren’t as interested in the correct answer to a tough question as they are in how a prospective employee might try to solve it. Since businesses today have to be able to react quickly to shifting market dynamics, they want more than engineers with high IQs and good college transcripts. They want people who can think on their feet.”
Comment: What are those companies (Google, Microsoft, Amazon) after? Employees with good Executive Functions. You can try some of the fun teasers in the article:
1) How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?
- About 500,000, assuming the bus is 50 balls high, 50 balls wide, and 200 balls long
2) You’re shrunk and trapped in a blender that will turn on in 60 seconds. What do you do?
1. Use the measurement marks to climb out
2. Try to unscrew the glass
3. Risk riding out the air current
3) How much should you charge to wash all the windows in Seattle?
- Assuming 10,000 city blocks, 600 windows per block, five minutes per window, and a rate of $20 per hour, about $10 million
PS: Enjoy these 50 brain teasers to test your cognitive ability. Free, and fun for adults of any age!
By: Alvaro Fernandez
Sharon Begley writes another great article on The Upside of Aging – WSJ.comÃ‚Â (subscription required)
- “The aging brain is subject to a dreary litany of changes. It shrinks, Swiss cheese-like holes grow, connections between neurons become sparser, blood flow and oxygen supply fall. That leads to trouble with short-term memory and rapidly switching attention, among other problems. And that’s in a healthy brain.”
- “But it’s not all doom and gloom. An emerging body of research shows that a surprising array of mental functions hold up well into old age, while others actually get better. Vocabulary improves, as do other verbal abilities such as facility with synonyms and antonyms. Older brains are packed with more so-called …”
We discussed some of these effects with Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg, who wrote his great book The Wisdom Paradox precisely on this point, at The Executive Brain and How our Minds Can Grow Stronger.
In our “Exercising Our Brains” Classes, we typically explain how some areas typically improve as we age, such as self-regulation, emotional functioning and Wisdom (which meansÃ‚Â moving from Problem solving to Pattern recognition), whereas otherÃ‚Â typically decline: effortful problem-solving for novel situations, processing speed, memory, attention and mental imagery.Ã‚Â
But the key message is thatÃ‚Â our actions influence the rate of improvement and/ or decline. Our awareness that “it’s not all doom and gloom” and that there’s much we can do is important.Ã‚Â You may want to learn more with ourÃ‚Â Exercise Your Brain DVD.
You can also learn more on the Successful Aging of the Healthy Brain: a beautiful essay by Marian Diamond onÃ‚Â how to keep our brains and mindsÃ‚Â active and fit throughout our lives.
By: Caroline Latham
Your frontal lobes are home to your executive functions, including pattern recognition. Here’s a puzzle to challenge your ability to uncover a pattern.
In this puzzle, three numbers: 16, 14, and 38, need to be assigned to one of the rows of numbers below. To which row should each number be assigned – A, B, or C?
Why do we care about pattern recognition skills? Well, if you’re an athlete, then you want to constantly improve your ability to see spatial patterns on the court or field quickly so you can act on them – by passing to open space or attacking the goal at the right moment. Stock traders look for patterns in the market behavior to guide them on buying and selling decisions. Chess masters are experts at recognizing complicated moves. Reading is also pattern recognition.
So, you use pattern recognition all the time whether you know it or not. But remember, using a skill is great, but you have to keep exercising it a little bit harder each time to develop it further.
Have you solved the puzzle yet? If not, here’s a hint:
It’s not a mathematical problem. The numerical values are irrelevant.
Keep reading for the answer…
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