Lifelong Learning and Brain Training

Very fun session today at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, titled Exercising our Brains: new Brain Research and implications for our Lives. As usual, we combined some research background with many fun group activities, such as the ones you will find in our Brain Exercises section (click here).

Want to try a brain teaser? Please count the number of times that the letter “f” appears in this sentence:

“Finished files are the result of years of scientific study combined with the experience of years” (The solution appears as first comment for this post in its new location http://www.sharpbrains.com/blog/2006/11/06/lifelong-learning-and-brain-training/).

(Bloggers: please note that we have moved to a new site. If you are interested in linking to this post, please do so with http://www.sharpbrains.com/blog/2006/11/06/lifelong-learning-and-brain-training/)

We reviewed some areas that typically improve as we age, such as Self-regulation, Emotional functioning and Wisdom, defined as Pattern recognition building on the accumulation of experiences.

We also took a look into some areas that typically decline as we age, such as deliberative and resource-intensive problem solving, processing speed, different areas of memory and attention, and Mental imagery.

But the key take-away is always that our actions influence the rate of improvement and/ or decline.

After some tough exercises to train our executive functions (and also learning the basic 1-2-3 1-2-3 step for salsa dancing, since dancing is so great for the brain), we did a fun meditation to relax and approach the rest of the evening with a great attitude. You can do with us this exercise proposed by Jeffrey Brantley in Five Good Minutes: 100 Morning Practices To Help You Stay Calm & Focused All Day Long:

First, travel back, in your mind’s eye, to a time when you felt a healthy exhaustion, and let you relive that moment as vividly as you can.

Then, remember, re-experience, a loving exchange that really touched you. Pause. See the moment. Smell it. Hear what happened around you.

Next, visualize the most caring gesture you have ever received, as full of details as possible. Who gave you that gift of caring. How you felt.

Now, travel to the most magnificent place you have seen. Enjoy the views. Pause. Listen. Smile. Appreciate.

We ended with a summary: Good brain exercise requires Novelty, Variety, and stretching Practise. We will be seeing more and more computer-based programs to help us.

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