Use It and You Won’t Lose It

In a Wall Street Journal Science Journal column, written a few years ago by Sharon Begley, it seems scientists and researchers have found, and are continuing to find, evidence that “old” brains aren’t so bad off – especially trained ones. In her article “Forget About It: Your Middle-Aged Brain is Not on the Decline,” Barbara Bradley Hagerty humorously describes her experiences with a memory lab experiment, and two aspects of intelligence: fluid and crystallized –

In other words, unless there is some physical disease in the brain, as long as you use it, you won’t lose it!

As scientists are taking another look at past data, some findings have held up: older brains do, indeed, process information more slowly than 19-year-old brains, and as a result, don’t make decisions quite as fast. And, older brains are less nimble when it comes to “multitasking.” (A total misnomer – while the subconscious is handling automatic tasks, like keeping us alive, we do not consciously do two or three things at the same time. We simply flip back and forth, albeit fairly quickly.)

One piece of “fact” has been turned on its ear, and that is the mistaken belief that the reason older brains don’t function as well is because the neurons die off and are not replaced with new ones. As it turns out, even 70-year-old brains produce new neurons and don’t lose neurons in most sections of the brain.

You can see where this is going: Be careful of listening to supposed “experts” and their facts. The “facts” may not be so, and you are stuck believing something that isn’t really true. And once you decide that these “facts” are true, you build a belief and you don’t see anything that contradicts them. In other words, you become your own worst enemy when it comes to growth.

So…get up! Get out there and dig into your future! There is a lot of life to be lived, and you don’t want to waste a minute of it – no matter how old you “are.”