Use it or Lose It

. Sunday, January 3


A new fact I just learned is that middle age is now considered to be the time between the ages of 40 all the way up to the 60’s. This reclassification, it is said, is due to increased life spans. What it means to me is that I’ve been “middle aged” for a lot longer than I thought.

Like Barbara Strauch (“How to Train the Aging Brain”), I’ve noted, in my middle age, that it seems a lot has changed with the way my brain works – or doesn’t. There’s a lot to forget, having accumulated 50 some odd years of memories, but it’s not just the past. It’s the here and now that is forgotten as well with what seems like a growing propensity to lose track of what I’m doing at any given moment.

While the younger brain no doubt learns and learns quickly, what is no longer a held truth is that older brains continue to develop as well. Those things forgotten aren’t lost, they are stored deeply within that ever-growing pile of accumulated memories.

The trick, and what does fall into the “use it or lose it” category, is neural connections that do tend to wither as we age when they are seldom used. To exercise that ol’ brain, and keep all those neurons firing, it’s a good idea to “jiggle things up a bit” by confronting thoughts and ideas that are different or contrary to what has been held for a long time.

“As adults we have all those brain pathways built up, and we need to look at our insights critically,” he says. “This is the best way for adults to learn. And if we do it, we can remain sharp.”


Rebecca said...

"they are stored deeply within that ever-growing pile of accumulated ..."

It would be nice if we could remove the useless nonsense and run defrag :-)

Theresa Komor said...

GIGO. Running defrag would be a great help!