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Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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The Upside of Aging-WSJ

Sharon Beg­ley writes anoth­er great arti­cle on The Upside of Aging — WSJ.com (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 means mov­ing from Prob­lem solv­ing to Pat­tern recog­ni­tion), where­as other typ­i­cal­ly decline: effort­ful prob­lem-solv­ing for nov­el sit­u­a­tions, pro­cess­ing speed, mem­o­ry, atten­tion and men­tal imagery. 

But the key mes­sage is that 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. You may want to learn more with our Exer­cise Your Brain DVD.

You can also learn more on the Suc­cess­ful Aging of the Healthy Brain: a beau­ti­ful essay by Mar­i­an Dia­mond on how to keep our brains and minds active and fit through­out our lives.

 

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