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5 Tips on Lifelong Learning and Neuroplasticity for the Adult Brain

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Learn­ing & the Brain is a con­fer­ence that gets marked on my cal­en­dar annu­al­ly because I always return home hav­ing either been exposed to new infor­ma­tion, or with a new per­spec­tive on an old top­ic. Last month’s con­fer­ence in Cam­bridge, MA, themed Using Emo­tions Research to Enhance Learn­ing & Achieve­ment, was no excep­tion. As with pre­vi­ous con­fer­ences, in addi­tion to the many keynote ses­sions, I focused on the adult learn­ing strand, since so much of my time is spent pro­vid­ing pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment for, and col­lab­o­rat­ing with adults. Here are five con­fer­ence cues as they relate to edu­ca­tion.

1. CHALLENGE YOURSELF WITH NEW LEARNING

Aaron Nel­son stat­ed that our mem­o­ry starts to decline between ages twen­ty-five and thir­ty, or to phrase it a bit more pos­i­tive­ly, Sam Wang says our mem­o­ry peaks around age thir­ty. On the oth­er end of the age spec­trum, accord­ing to Ken Kosik, there is unequiv­o­cal evi­dence that edu­ca­tion pro­tects against Alzheimer’s. Both Nel­son and Kosik men­tioned the the­o­ry of cog­ni­tive reserve, which trans­lates rough­ly to the more we learn, the more con­nec­tions we cre­ate, and there­fore the greater the neu­ronal buffer we have to draw upon as we age.

Elkhonon Gold­berg of The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness stat­ed at last April’s con­fer­ence that “as one ages, the domain of the nov­el shrinks, and the domain of what is known grows”. He cau­tioned the audi­ence to beware of being on men­tal autopi­lot. Thus, the goal is not to sim­ply get bet­ter at doing more of the same. The type of learn­ing that makes a dif­fer­ence con­sists specif­i­cal­ly of new, nov­el chal­lenges. The result of such engage­ment is that Read the rest of this entry »

Neurogenesis and Brain Plasticity in Adult Brains

Back in July, I wrote a post enti­tled 10 Brain Tips To Teach and Learn. Those tips apply to stu­dents of any age, includ­ing adults, for ide­al­ly adults are still learn­ers. Why is adult learn­ing rel­e­vant in a brain-focused blog, you may won­der:

The short of it

As we age, our brain:

still forms new brain cells
can change its struc­ture & func­tion
finds pos­i­tive stress can be ben­e­fi­cial; neg­a­tive stress can be detri­men­tal
can thrive on nov­el chal­lenges
needs to be exer­cised, just like our bod­ies

The long of it

Adults may have a ten­den­cy to get set in their ways have been doing it this way for a long time and it works, so why change? Turns out, though, that change can be a way to keep aging brains healthy. At the April Learn­ing & the Brain con­fer­ence, the theme of which was neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty, I attend­ed sev­er­al ses­sions on adult learn­ing. Here’s what the experts are say­ing.

Read the rest of this entry »

Learning & the Brain: Resources for Educators

As promised in my pre­vi­ous post (10 Brain Train­ing Tips To Teach and Learn), here are some of the resources that inform my under­stand­ing of the brain: books, con­fer­ences, and web­sites.

BOOKS

There are a mul­ti­tude of books about the brain. For edu­ca­tors, the best of these are books that demys­ti­fy the lan­guage of neu­ro­science while pro­vid­ing infor­ma­tion applic­a­ble to the teaching/learning process.

Among the more pro­lif­ic or well-known authors of this type include Jeb Schenck, Robert Syl­west­er, Bar­bara Givens, Robert Marzano, Mar­ilee Sprenger, and Eric Jensen.

I have found books Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness News and Events

Quick links to excel­lent resources:

1) FEA­TURE-Brain fit­ness seen as hot indus­try of the future (Reuters)

2) Learn­ing & the Brain Con­fer­ence for Edu­ca­tors and Clin­i­cians. April 26–29, 2008. Cam­bridge, MA

3) Brain Health Across the Lifes­pan Sem­i­nar for Health & Aging Pro­fes­sion­als. May 15th, 2008. San Fran­cis­co, CA

For more info, Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Teaser for the Frontal Lobes: Tipping the Scales

Here is a new brain teas­er from puz­zle mas­ter Wes Car­roll.

Tip­ping the Scales

free brain teasers for frontal lobes

Ques­tion:
The top two scales are in per­fect bal­ance. How many dia­monds will be need­ed to bal­ance the bot­tom set?

This puz­zle works your exec­u­tive func­tions in your frontal lobes by using your pat­tern recog­ni­tion, hypoth­e­sis test­ing, and log­ic.
ANSWER:

Four dia­monds

SOLUTION:

First add up the num­ber of clubs in the first two scales (5). Then count how many clubs are in the bot­tom scale (5). The do the same with the spades, which gets you 5 and 5. There are 4 dia­monds in the top two bal­anced scales. There­fore, it must take 4 dia­monds to bal­ance the third scale since all the oth­er mea­sure­ments are the same.

 

More brain teas­er games:

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