I just listened to a wonderful episode of Fresh Air on NPR News Radio. (If you’re not familiar with the show, host Terry Gross conducts in-depth interviews with all sorts of interesting folks from various walks of life.) The guest was Barbara Strauch, author of a new book entitled The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind. You can read an excerpt from the book here and listen to a podcast of the Fresh Air interview here.
Strauch’s topic is the aging brain. She laments some of the commonplace cognitive issues people face as they age, such as becoming more forgetful, distracted, and so forth. And then, perhaps surprisingly, she turns to the bright side of things and begins talking about all of the positive changes that occur as the brain ages. Middle-aged brains, Strauch argues, are actually better at some things than younger brains- like reasoning, categorizing, and “sizing up situations.” She also notes that on average, people reach the peak of making good financial decisions in their 60s.
Her overall thesis is two-fold: first, that we should not think of our aging brains as simply in decline, but rather, we should recognize that certain aspects of cognition may be declining while others are actually improving. Second, in regards to the parts that are getting worse- you shouldn’t just shrug your shoulders and accept it, you should take action to improve it.
Of course, Posit Science wholeheartedly agrees with both parts of this thesis, which is why we make challenging, adaptive, clinically proven brain fitness exercises, and why we’ve long supported and celebrated the work of age researchers like the late, great Dr. Gene Cohen.
Barbara Strauch’s new book The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain is being released today. Click here to buy it from Amazon.