Thursday, February 20, 2014

Age: Richer, Not Slower?

It’s been generally accepted that our mental faculties slow down with age. Cognitive decline, they call it, and scientists have pinpointed the start of our downhill trek to begin around age 25. A new study is now looking at the issue from a different angle and asking whether cognitive decline is age-related, or a symptom of our brains holding more information.

As we get older, does it take longer to retrieve what we’re looking for because we’re holding too much in our brains? If you use the analogy of a library, the more books you have, the longer it’s going to take you to find the one you’re looking for. The argument is that perhaps the brain isn’t slowing down; it’s just got mountains more material it needs to sort through.

A cynic might say it doesn’t matter if the result is the same. But then with technology advancing at such a rapid rate, it’s foreseeable that we could one day create a tool that helps to keep us mentally sharp through our golden years. I’m sure someone already has an application in the works. The more we know about the brain, the better. The last thing we want is to surrender our memories in favor of Google. As they say, use it or lose it.


Robin D said...

We have one simple tool already at our disposal - movement (exercise in its more active use)! Neurological research is showing that exercise prompts the creation of new brain cells that keep the brain functioning 'normally' with the side benefit of a healthy heart. A brain 'brain in movement' presents a dramatically different picture to a 'on the coach'.

Simon Bell said...

Hi Kevin, saw a great program on the BBC tonight (24 Feb). Think you would appreciate it. "Horizon: How you really make decisions". I thought of you when I was watching it. It's just a coincidence that this, your most recent blog is kinda related! Hope you get a chance to see it and enjoy it.

Media Messiah said...

So a young person has less information to access but can access it more quickly, whereas an older person has more information to access but can access it more slowly? Give me the older person any day. They take a while to think then come back with a wise answer.