June 26


The Aging Brain

By Peter Julian

aging brain, getting old, mental decline

Anti-Aging is a big thing these days.  As the baby boomers get older, most are concerned about the aging brain. Common beliefs say that your brain will deteriorate as you get older, neural connections will wither and die, it will be harder to learn anything new, and your reaction times will get slower.  Multitasking gets more difficult.

But what if this is not the whole picture?  What if there is more to the story?

The Aging Brain

In his book, “Major Issues in Cognitive Aging,” Timothy A. Salthouse, professor of psychology and director of the Cognitive Aging Laboratory at the University of Virginia, writes, “Although there is no shortage of opinions about cognitive aging, it sometimes seems that relatively few of the claims are based on well-established empirical evidence … assertions about cognitive aging may be influenced as much by the authors’ preconceptions and attitudes as by systematic evaluations of empirical research.”

Salthouse goes on to make two more significant observations about cognitive aging: Discoveries of decline in the laboratory do not necessarily correlate to success out in the real world, and there is often considerable variation among different people of the same age.

Place these findings alongside research about the power of suggestion (both deliberate and otherwise) and how response expectancies — the ways in which we anticipate a specific outcome — drive subsequent thoughts and behaviors that will actually help to bring that outcome to fruition. And suddenly you have a whole new narrative about the possibilities of healthy aging.

As Ron, one of our readers, pointed out in a Facebook message following this story of a few weeks ago, A creative life is a healthy life: “Want REAL innovation? Bring in the seniors.”

Read the rest of the story here.

It is really exciting to think that there are actually improvements to the brain with age, don’t you think?  Empathy gets better – at least for many people – as they get older and that is important on so many levels!

To some degree, you are what you think you are – so if you think you won’t remember things, that your brain is going to get less reliable, that is probably what will happen. (As Buddha says, “what you think you become.”)

But what if we choose a different path, were we continually learn new things, visit new places, and look for ways to express our creativity – how does that make the aging brain different?

Just like your body, if you neglect your brain, if you do not nurture it, it will not be as healthy as if you work out, eat a healthy diet, and offer it fresh new ideas and activities.

Let us know what you think by commenting below or sharing with a comment on Facebook!

About the author

Peter Julian is the Publisher at BrainSpeak.com

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