Lifelong Learning and Brain Training

Very fun ses­sion today at the Osh­er Life­long Learn­ing Insti­tute, titled Exer­cis­ing our Brains: new Brain Research and impli­ca­tions for our Lives. As usu­al, we com­bined some research back­ground with many fun group activ­i­ties, such as the ones you will find in our Brain Exer­cis­es sec­tion (click here).Want to try a brain teas­er? Please count the num­ber of times that the let­ter “f” appears in this sentence:

Fin­ished files are the result of years of sci­en­tif­ic study com­bined with the expe­ri­ence of years” (The solu­tion appears as first com­ment for this post).

We reviewed some areas that typ­i­cal­ly improve as we age, such as Self-reg­u­la­tion, Emo­tion­al func­tion­ing and Wis­dom, defined as Pat­tern recognition build­ing on the accu­mu­la­tion of experiences.

We also took a look into some areas that typ­i­cal­ly decline as we age, such as delib­er­a­tive and resource-inten­sive prob­lem solv­ing, pro­cess­ing speed, dif­fer­ent areas of mem­o­ry and atten­tion, and Men­tal imagery.

But the key take-away is always that our actions influ­ence the rate of improve­ment and/ or decline.

After some tough exer­cis­es to train our exec­u­tive func­tions (and also learn­ing the basic 1–2‑3 1–2‑3 step for sal­sa danc­ing, since danc­ing is so great for the brain), we did a fun med­i­ta­tion to relax and approach the rest of the evening with a great atti­tude. You can do with us this exer­cise pro­posed by Jef­frey Brant­ley in Five Good Min­utes: 100 Morn­ing Prac­tices To Help You Stay Calm & Focused All Day Long:

First, trav­el back, in your mind’s eye, to a time when you felt a healthy exhaus­tion, and let you relive that moment as vivid­ly as you can.

Then, remem­ber, re-expe­ri­ence, a lov­ing exchange that real­ly touched you. Pause. See the moment. Smell it. Hear what hap­pened around you.

Next, visu­al­ize the most car­ing ges­ture you have ever received, as full of details as pos­si­ble. Who gave you that gift of car­ing. How you felt.

Now, trav­el to the most mag­nif­i­cent place you have seen. Enjoy the views. Pause. Lis­ten. Smile. Appreciate.

We end­ed with a sum­ma­ry: Good brain exer­cise requires Nov­el­ty, Vari­ety, and stretching Prac­tise. We will be see­ing more and more com­put­er-based pro­grams to help us.


  1. Alvaro on November 6, 2006 at 11:32

    Count the F exer­cise: there are 6. Did you see the “f” in the “of“s?

  2. Brian Egedy on May 25, 2007 at 11:49

    i’ve seen puz­zles like this before, so i was so focused on “of” i did­n’t see the F in “sci­en­tif­ic”

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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