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Exercise Your Brain! Enjoy Learning!

Dr. Michael Merzenich has writ­ten a great post titled “cog­ni­tive reserve is a good thing to work on!. Rec­om­mend­ed read­ing if you are inter­est­ed in anoth­er sci­en­tif­ic per­spec­tive for cog­ni­tive train­ing.

I agree we should know more (as usu­al), espe­cial­ly for pol­i­cy deci­sions, but there is enough research, from Mar­i­an Dia­mond et al (see beau­ti­ful essays below) work on enriched envi­ron­ments to cog­ni­tive reserve and train­ing, that is shout­ing at all of us: Exer­cise Your Brain! Enjoy Learn­ing! Sta­tis­tics such as that the aver­age Amer­i­can-includ­ing kids- watch 5 hours of TV dai­ly… don’t mean “we need more research” but “how can we change this”?.

See a cou­ple of quotes from my recent inter­view with Yaakov Stern on the Cog­ni­tive Reserve.

  • well…I was pret­ty sur­prised when, years ago, a reporter from Sev­en­teen mag­a­zine request­ed an inter­view. I was real­ly curi­ous to learn why she felt that her read­ers would be inter­est­ed in stud­ies about demen­tia. What she told me showed a deep under­stand­ing and insight: she want­ed  to moti­vate chil­dren to stay in school. She under­stood that ear­ly social inter­ven­tions could be very pow­er­ful for build­ing reserve and pre­vent­ing demen­tia.”
  • …edu­ca­tion and occu­pa­tion, our lev­el of par­tic­i­pa­tion in leisure activ­i­ties has a sig­nif­i­cant and cumu­la­tive effect. A key mes­sage here is that dif­fer­ent activ­i­ties have inde­pen­dent, syn­er­gis­tic, con­tri­bu­tions, which means the more things you do and the ear­li­er you start, the bet­ter. But you are nev­er stuck: bet­ter late than nev­er.”

Two essays by Mar­i­an Dia­mond on life­long enrich­ment:

  • Suc­cess­ful Aging of the Healthy Brain: Beau­ti­ful essay on how to keep our brains and minds active and fit through­out our life­time.
  • Response of the Brain to Enrich­ment: Although the brain pos­sess­es a rel­a­tive­ly con­stant struc­ture, the ever-chang­ing cere­bral cor­tex is pow­er­ful­ly shaped by expe­ri­ences before birth, dur­ing youth and, in fact, through­out life.

In a recent email exchange, Prof. Dia­mond sum­ma­rized her recipe for healthy aging:

  1. Diet,
  2. Chal­lenge,
  3. Exer­cise,
  4. New­ness,
  5. Love.

Exer­cise Your Brain-and Body! Enjoy Learn­ing-and Life!

Update: Madam Fath­om has written a nice post on this theme titled Read­ing makes you stronger

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6 Responses

  1. I love the tips from Prof. Dia­mond on healthy aging. The one I would add would be some form of med­i­ta­tion or breath­ing prac­tice such as yoga.

  2. Alvaro says:

    Hel­lo Melis­sa,

    I agree that stress man­age­ment is impor­tant-we usu­al­ly men­tion it as a pil­lar og brain health-, and that med­i­ta­tion and breath­ing are impor­tant. Prob­a­bly that fits under most of the 5 points, in fact.

  3. maureen says:

    I agree that you need to keep your mind active as well as your body as you age.

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