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Aging Brains Get a Boost From New Thinking

My father, who retired from GE at 55, fondly referred to his retirement as his graduation into another era of his life. Those last decades were the most fruitful and productive of his life, as well as being the most satisfying.

A recent study, reported this past week in Science Daily, demonstrates that when it comes to understanding the impact of aging on the brain, we need to read the plethora of brain-related research with a critical eye.

The study found that healthy older brains are not significantly smaller than younger brains, as was previously believed. Great news! It turns out that we don’t lose as much gray matter when we age as we once thought!

This study points out that much of the previous research was conducted with patients who had cognitive decline instead of those who had great cognitive health. This key difference may ultimately be what has led to the gloomier outcomes of prior studies.

As the article notes:

“If future longitudinal studies find similar results, our conception of 'normal' brain aging may become more optimistic," said lead author Saartje Burgmans, who is due to receive her PhD later this year.

The findings should caution scientists about drawing conclusions from brain studies that don't screen participants over time, using precise and objective definitions, the authors added.

This is also important information to consider as a growing number of baby boomers are now retiring later due to the current economic crisis. We need to rewrite the old adage to read “Old dogs can learn new tricks.”

With a challenging competitive environment and four generations in the workplace, engaging with those the French refer to as being in the “3rd Age” can have a positive impact on mentoring, knowledge management and other key initiatives.

And how are you managing your own cognitive health? Will you be ready to “graduate” into another era when the time comes?

Use it or lose it! Stretch your thinking by moving beyond your preferred thinking styles and comfort zones into other quadrants as a way to keep your neurons firing, whatever your age might be.

Get your copy of the Whole Brain Business Book here!

Tags: Brain Research

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