We’ve basically taken it for granted that the brain naturally decline with age. We believe that with age people become more forgetful, memories become fuzzy around the edges and learning doesn’t happen.
But this simply isn’t true, according to many scientists who investigate the brain.
Rather, it’s possible for the brain to keep changing and evolving throughout life. This wondrous phenomenon is called neuroplasticity.
At any age, when you learn something new or engage in an activity that strengthens brain processes, your brain will adapt – new connections between cells will be established and, if you’re talking about long-term memory, the cell itself will alter. Moreover, exciting studies are coming out reporting on the positive impact brain exercises have on such conditions as dementia.
Right now we treat the ages between 0 and 25 as the ‘learning window’, as though we have to cram in every bit of learning into these ‘special’ years. After 25, we tend to specialize. By the time we’re 40 or so, we know how to do our job pretty well. Work no longer requires the mental investment it once did. Instead of searching out new opportunities to learn and grow, we get cozy and plateau. Then we reserve retirement and beyond for TV and drinking tea.
This is an unfortunate state of affairs, because our brains, no matter what age, are hungry to learn.
Thankfully, the word is getting out about neuroplasticity. More and more adults are investing in activities that strengthen the brain: brain exercises, puzzles, reading, learning a new language, going back to school, etc. Even physical exercise has a positive effect on brain function.
Check out this report from Dan Rather that covers this fascinating topic.
What are you doing to keep your brain active as you grow older?