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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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