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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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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

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