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.