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10 Brain Fitness New Year’s Resolutions

Brain Fitness New Year's ResolutionsYou have sur­vived the 2007 shop­ping and eat­ing sea­son. Con­grat­u­la­tions! Now it’s time to shift gears and focus on 2008…whether you write down some New Year res­o­lu­tions or con­tem­plate some things that you want to let go of from last year and set inten­tions and goals for this year — as is a friend’s tra­di­tion on the win­ter sol­stice.

To sum­ma­rize the key find­ings of the last 20 years of neu­ro­science research on how to “exer­cise our brains”, there are three things that we can strive for: nov­el­ty, vari­ety and chal­lenge. If we do these three things, we will build new con­nec­tions in our brains, be mind­ful and pay atten­tion to our envi­ron­ment, improve cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties such as pat­tern-recog­ni­tion, and in gen­er­al con­tribute to our life­long brain health.

With these three prin­ci­ples of brain health in mind — nov­el­ty, vari­ety and chal­lenge — let me sug­gest a few poten­tial New Years res­o­lu­tions, per­haps some unex­pect­ed, that will help you make 2008 a year of Brain Fit­ness: Read the rest of this entry »

Baby Boomers, Healthy Aging and Job Performance

There has been an inter­est­ing dis­cus­sion about the issues relat­ed to the aging of the legal pro­fes­sion. Stephanie intro­duced us to the arti­cle “the Gray­ing Bar: let’s not for­get the ethics” by David Giacalone.

In short: sta­tis­tics about the increas­ing ratio of lawyers over 70 in active prac­tice, on the one hand, and the gen­er­al inci­dence of Alzheimer’s and oth­er demen­tias, on the oth­er, lead David to point out an increas­ing like­li­hood that some lawyers may be prac­tic­ing in less than ide­al con­di­tions for their clients, beyond a rea­son­able “brain age”. The ques­tion then becomes: who and how can solve this prob­lem, which is only going to grow giv­en demo­graph­ic trends?.

We are not legal experts, but would like to inform the debate by offer­ing 10 con­sid­er­a­tions on healthy aging and job per­for­mance from a neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal point of view, that apply to all occu­pa­tions:

1- We should talk more about change than about decline, as Sharon Beg­ley wrote recent­ly in her great arti­cle on The Upside of Aging — WSJ.com (sub­scrip­tion required).

We dis­cussed some of these effects with Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg, who wrote his great book The Wis­dom Para­dox pre­cise­ly on this point, at The Exec­u­tive Brain and How our Minds Can Grow Stronger.

2- Some skills improve as we age: In our “Exer­cis­ing Our Brains” Class­es, we typ­i­cal­ly explain how some areas typ­i­cal­ly improve as we age, such as self-reg­u­la­tion, emo­tion­al func­tion­ing and Wis­dom (which means mov­ing from Prob­lem solv­ing to Pat­tern recog­ni­tion). As a lawyer accu­mu­lates more cas­es under his/ her belt, he or she devel­ops an auto­mat­ic “intu­ition” for solu­tions and strate­gies. As long as the envi­ron­ment doesn’t change too rapid­ly, this grow­ing wis­dom is very valu­able.

3- …where­as, yes, oth­ers typ­i­cal­ly decline: Read the rest of this entry »

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