Brain Plasticity

Apr 16

I read an article over the weekend in Discover Magazine, May 2007 called The Plastic Brain. The article is primarily about a professor at the University of California at San Francisco named Merzenich and his theories about how to “fix” the brain and reverse the toll of aging on memory. He says his program works by reversing the “negative plasticity” of aging. He posits that older people tend to want an easy life but they don’t realize that that is bad for them. Basically as we get older we get lazy and stop working so hard to solve problems or be involved in various interactions so that brain starts to atrophy. It is a really interesting article.

Below is a link to an interview with him about his theories.

I am thinking about buying the program and checking it out. I will say one thing I have noticed about myself. When I get tired and disengaged in what I am working on, I get lazy. I have noticed when that happens that I have fewer good ideas. When I get sparked by something new and interesting, I find myself making all sorts of new connections and the ideas start to flow. So my non-scientific data supports the concept. I think that why older people who stay engaged and involved do so much better than those that retire without hobbies or outside interests. Being constantly hungry for knowledge and learning new things keeps the brain alive. Wonder if that could create a whole new customer focus for Universities. Maybe they could have programs in a different pricing structure that could target the aging population just to keep there minds fresh and engage in discourse. Wouldn’t that be interesting? I would love to go back to school now. I think I would be a much more interesting participant in class. Maybe I would even be able to focus on the chemistry 101 and calculus that I dropped when I was a freshman because they were “a drag”.

What do you think?

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