All writers know that in order to be a good writer, you first must be a great reader. As I focus on writing more, I am also focused on reading what other people are writing in the areas that encompass my passions, my interests, and the science behind it all.
I had several really cool break through moments recently. Here are a few tidbits that you might find interesting as well!
- Some skills actually get better as we age: “While memorization skills and perceptual speed both start to decline in young adulthood, verbal abilities, spatial reasoning, simple math abilities and abstract reasoning skills all improve in middle age.” APA Monitor citing: Neurology (Vol. 68, No. 9)
- As we age we often change our strategy. Older adults have a tendency to use more of their brain — activating both hemispheres can make up for losses in perceptual speed!
- There are multiple links between positive outlooks and longevity. The “positivity bias” that we develop as we age, also supports good health. I particularly love this set of finding because my rose colored glasses are clean, crisp, and clear!
The biggest “duh” statements, however, were in the February 2014 edition of National Geographic: The Secrets of the Brain. Think about this for a minute.
“Scientists are learning so much about the brain now that it’s easy to forget that for much of history we had no idea at all how it worked or even what it was. In the ancient world physicians believed that the brain was made of phlegm. Aristotle looked on it as a refrigerator, cooling off the fiery heart. From his time through the Renaissance, anatomists declared with great authority that our perceptions, emotions, reasoning, and actions were all the result of “animal spirits”—mysterious, unknowable vapors that swirled through cavities in our head and traveled through our bodies.” National Geographic, February 2014
In general, we know so little about the brain, how it works, how it changes, and how we can maximize our functioning. Beyond that, studies on the aging brain in particular, did not really begin in earnest until about 20 years ago. That is not enough time to evaluate the effects of aging. I was listening(for the third or fourth time) to a wonderful book this week (yes feeding my www.audible.com addiction), The Secret Life of the Grown Up Brain and I had to stop the recording and back up a bit and listen again when I heard this: not only is the study of the aging brain only about 2 decades old, the original studies were all done with people in nursing homes…. Now that is some seriously lost time….
There is no doubt that 2014 has definitely been a banner year for brain research. Fueled by the POTUS’ support for the BRAIN Initiative, neuroscientists are unlocking the mysteries of and mapping that little 3 lb. organ the directs our, well…everything.
Even with all this new information filling in huge gaps in the base of knowledge, we are still looking at a grossly incomplete picture. Honestly, the best we can do is run with what we do know – and we do know some — build from there, and actively support and advocate for funding for continuing innovative brain research.
What steps are you taking to practice what you need?
Pieces of this post were taken from posts published earlier this year here on craniumcrunches.com/blog.