Category Archives: Aging

Does the Brain Mature @ 25?

Source: BigThink, Mar 2019

Research suggests that most human brains take about 25 years to develop, though these rates can vary among men and women, and among individuals.
Although the human brain matures in size during adolescence, important developments within the prefrontal cortex and other regions still take pace well into one’s 20s.

the development of the prefrontal cortex, a significant part of the brain, in terms of social interactions, that affects how we regulate emotions, control impulsive behavior, assess risk and make long-term plans. Also important are the brain’s reward systems, which are especially excitable during adolescence. But these parts of the brain don’t stop growing at age 18. In fact, research shows that it can take more than 25 years for them to reach maturity.

Just like one can be physically clumsy, one can be kind of mentally clumsy.

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The human brain reaches its adult volume by age 10, but the neurons that make it up continue to change for years after that. The connections between neighboring neurons get pruned back, as new links emerge between more widely separated areas of the brain.

https://www.scienceabc.com/humans/teenage-brain-development-behavior-explained-frontal-lobe-function.html

Sex Invigorates the Elderly

Source: Yahoo news, Jan 2019

In the study of nearly 7,000 men and women, ages 50 to 89, quality of life was higher in those who reported any kind of sexual activity in the past year, such as kissing, researchers found.

Being emotionally close to one’s partner during sex also resulted in higher scores on the quality of life questionnaire for both men and women.

Among sexually active men, intercourse at least twice a month and frequent kissing, petting or fondling were associated with greater enjoyment of life. Among sexually active women, that was true for frequent kissing, petting or fondling – but not for intercourse.

The average age of respondents was in the mid-60s, and most were married or living with a partner.

Acting Your Age

Source: Nautilus, Nov 2016

a tantalizing demonstration that our chronological age based on our birthdate is a misleading indicator of aging.

organs and tissues often age differently, making it difficult to reduce biological age to a single number. They have also made a discovery that echoes Langer’s work. How old we feel—our subjective age—can influence how we age.

Brain Games (as yet) Unscientifically Validated

Source: Stanford website, Oct 2014

The Stanford Center on Longevity and the Berlin Max Planck Institute for Human Development gathered many of the world’s leading cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists –people who have dedicated their careers to studying the aging mind and brain– to share their views about brain games and offer a consensus report to the public.

What do expert scientists think about these claims and promises? Do they have specific recommendations for effective ways to boost cognition in healthy, older adults? Are there merits to the claimed benefits of the brain games and if so, do older adults benefit from brain-game learning in the same ways younger people do? How large are the gains associated with computer-based cognitive exercises? Are the gains restricted to specific skills or does general cognitive aptitude improve? How does playing games compare with other proposed means of mitigating age-related declines, such as physical activity and exercise, meditation, or social engagement?

To date, there is little evidence that playing brain games improves underlying broad cognitive abilities, or that it enables one to better navigate a complex realm of everyday life.

In summary, research on aging has shown that the human mind is malleable throughout life span. In developed countries around the world, later-born cohorts live longer and reach old age with higher levels of cognitive functioning than those who were born in earlier times. When researchers follow people across their adult lives, they find that those who

  • live cognitively active, socially connected lives and
  • maintain healthy lifestyles

are less likely to suffer debilitating illness and early cognitive decline in their golden years than their sedentary, cognitively and socially disengaged counterparts.

Physical exercise is a moderately effective way to improve general health, including brain fitness. Scientists have found that regular aerobic exercise increases blood flow to the brain, and helps to support formation of new neural and vascular connections. Physical exercise has been shown to improve attention, reasoning, and components of memory. All said, one can expect small but noticeable gains in cognitive performance, or attenuation of loss, from taking up aerobic exercise training.

 

Age is an Attitude

Source: NYTimes, Oct 2014

Even smart people fall prey to an “illusion of control” over chance events, Langer concluded. We aren’t really very rational creatures. Our cognitive biases routinely steer us wrong.

If people could learn to be mindful and always perceive the choices available to them, Langer says, they would fulfill their potential and improve their health.

Langer’s technique of achieving a state of mindfulness is different from the one often utilized in Eastern “mindfulness meditation” — nonjudgmental awareness of the thoughts and feelings drifting through your mind — that is everywhere today.

Her emphasis is on noticing moment-to-moment changes around you, from the differences in the face of your spouse across the breakfast table to the variability of your asthma symptoms.

When we are “actively making new distinctions, rather than relying on habitual” categorizations, we’re alive; and when we’re alive, we can improve. Indeed, “well-being and enhanced performance” were Langer’s goals from the beginning of her career.

 

2014 Standard Chartered KL Marathon Results

2014 Standard Chartered KL Marathon results - 6 hours 44 minutes

Learning Language(s) can Slow Mental Decline

Source: NYTimes, Jul 2014

researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Northwestern University in Illinois hypothesized that language study should prove beneficial for older adults, noting that the cognitive tasks involved — including working memory, inductive reasoning, sound discrimination and task switching — map closely to the areas of the brain that are most associated with declines due to aging.

In other words, the things that make second-language acquisition so maddening for grown-ups are the very things that may make the effort so beneficial.