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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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