May 23, 2010

Important brain functions can keep getting stronger well into old age

Barbara Strauch's book The Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain is about how our brains unlike most parts of our bodies is not simply subject to decay from age 35 or so on. While certain brain functions do indeed suffer (for instance our ability to remember names), in many aspects the functioning of the brain is actually improving: we become better at pattern recognition, we make better judgments due to our tacit knowledge, and we generally develop a more positive outlook on life as we grow older. The book debunks the idea that from a certain point, somewhere around 40, we are over the hill and from that point on we only have one way to go: downhill. While we grow older our bodies do decay in many respects, many of our brain functions can keep on going uphill well into old age. 


  1. I first heard about this book from an article in Reader's Digest when I was in my dentist's waiting room. I then heard about the same book on NPR. Now you're posting about it. I think I'll have to read this one soon even though I'm only 32, it would be good to know how my brain may be getting better with age as understanding that may help me overcome some negative stereotypes about aging I may have without knowing about it :)

  2. Hi Rodney, good idea. Here is already a preview of one aspect of how things may get better with old age: Speaking words of wisdom


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