Older brain really may be a wiser brain

From the New York Times: Older Brain Really May Be a Wiser Brain.

When older people can no longer remember names at a cocktail party, they tend to think that their brainpower is declining. But a growing number of studies suggest that this assumption is often wrong.

Instead, the research finds, the aging brain is simply taking in more data and trying to sift through a clutter of information, often to its long-term benefit.

The studies are analyzed in a new edition of a neurology book, "Progress in Brain Research."

Some brains do deteriorate with age. Alzheimer’s disease, for example, strikes 13 percent of Americans 65 and older. But for most aging adults, the authors say, much of what occurs is a gradually widening focus of attention that makes it more difficult to latch onto just one fact, like a name or a telephone number. Although that can be frustrating, it is often useful. [continue]

3 thoughts on “Older brain really may be a wiser brain

  1. It was interesting to read this today and think of people I know, both people in the different age categories and in creative versus non-creative endeavours.

    That thinking reminded me of playing tennis with an older fellow I knew in Virginia USA. This man was about seventy years old, and someone I definitely would have classed as a wise man. But if I hit more than two balls towards him at a time (for instance, when changing serve) invariably he would lose track of all of them and end up chasing them down at the fencelines.

    Obviously I learned quickly not to do that! I thought it was due to inattention on his part at the time, but now it makes perfect sense.

  2. Full disclosure: I’m 66.

    I find that a discussion of a complex topic may put me on “Pause” for a bit, as I access several decades of related material and correlate the results. The result is a wider view of the issue and its interrelated complexities, but a somewhat slower response.

    Does that make me older and wiser? Dunno. But I *can* claim more experience and a broader viewpoint.

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