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Better Brain Because of Aging, Not Despite It

Posted Oct 08 2008 4:29pm

Gene Cohen, MD, MPH, the multi-talented geriatric researcher, participated in the Positive Aging Conference I attended in Florida. Here's some take-aways from his talks:

  • The new "senior moment" can involve taking new risks, an inner comfort to try something new, as Cohen's in-laws did. Confronted with being stranded, temporarily without access to Gene or his wife, they entered a pizza shop that delivered, ordered a pizza, on condition they themselves would be delivered along with their pizza!
  • There's increasing synchrony in the bilateral use of the 2 brain hemispheres. Any activity that optimally uses both parts of the brain is like "chocolate for the brain."
  • There are positive brain changes in how it processes emotions. There's a lengthening of the fuse, typically seen as "mellowing."
  • Brain plasticity - increase in number and size of the dendrites results in more possibilities to learn.
  • Optimal activities vary with individual, but goal is to get your brain "mentally sweating" to keep it in shape.
  • There are fewer receptor sites, but they are more sensitive. So, there's a built-in physiological way that the brain has of compensating.

To discover more about what Gene Cohen has found about the brain's capacities as we age, seeThe Mature Mind:The Positive Power of the Aging Brain.

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