Do you sometimes feel like you are getting dumber as you age? The other day I had to think how to spell “of” (humm…is it uv, ove?) Yesterday, I wondered why my nephew, Ben, had an embroidered letter “H” on his shirt, until I recalled his last name. And my quick trip to the store to pick up three things? I couldn’t remember one of them. BREAD! It’s always bread… (Test your brain with some teasers and riddles at the end)
An article in this month’s Whole Living magazine, Older and Wiser, by Naomi Shulman, explains research shows the exact opposite is true: we reach the height of our inductive reasoning, spatial orientation, vocabulary, and verbal memory at middle age. In fact, the only things that begins to decline when we are older are perceptual speed and numerical ability. Really? I anyone else feeling on the edge of the bell curve on this one?
A few parts of the brain don’t even developmentally peak until we are in our 40s and 50s: the “white matter,” the prefrontal cortex, and the parietal lobes. Our white matter is like a system of wires that takes information from one cell to the next. The more “wires” the better we can integrate information. Our prefrontal cortex (which I have talked about here and here) houses our judgment and inhabitations, while the parietal lobes integrate sensory information. So, basically, as we age we have BETTER judgment, with superior integration of sensory information, and a broader bandwidth in which to incorporate it all.
We may be slower, but at least we are smarter. And just like a muscle, we can exercise the brain to keep it a little sharper.
Dalai Dan and I like to test our selves with brain-teasers and riddles. We have a couple of books filled with them. It inevitably turn into a competition, where I froth at the mouth if he beats me and have painful flashbacks of him scoring 2 points better than me in an Algebra 100 test 20 years ago. I think his 6 months of age over me has given him an unfair advantage…
See what you can do with these!
1. A boy and a girl are sitting together on a park bench
“I am a girl,” says the child with blond hair.
“I am a boy,” says the child with brunette hair.
At least one of them is lying. Which child is the boy and which is the girl?
2. A bird has a head 9 cm long. The tail is equal to the size of the head plus a half of the size of the body. The body is the size of the head plus the tail. How long is the bird?
3. A farmer has to cross a river in a boat. He has a chicken, a fox, and a bag of grain. The boat is only big enough to take one of the three across at a time. He cannot leave the grain and chicken together, since the chicken will eat the grain. He cannot leave the fox and chicken together, since the fox will eat the chicken.
How does he get everything safely across the river?
4. Jack was asked how old he was. “In two years I’ll be twice as old as I was six years ago.” How old is Jack?