Monday, April 22, 2013
On the Reading Table: "The Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain" by Barbara Strauch
Here's my latest selection from the reading nightstand. I had originally intended to just skim this hardback and then "prune it" from the pile of "I just have too many HPB clearance books to read" candidates -- but then I got hooked into reading the whole book -- so, it's a quick and fun read. Recommended for the neuroscience buffs.
The Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind by Barbara Strauch
A leading science writer examines how our brains improve in middle age.
Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Barbara Strauch explores the latest findings that demonstrate how the middle-aged brain is more flexible and capable than previously thought. In fact, new research from neuroscientists and psychologists suggests that the brain reorganizes, improves in important functions, and even helps us adopt a more optimistic outlook in middle age. We recognize patterns faster, make better judgments, and find unique solutions to problems. Part scientific survey, part how-to guide, The Secret Life of the Grown- Up Brain is a fascinating glimpse at our surprisingly talented middle-aged minds.
Along with bulging waistlines and graying hair, declining mental faculties have long been seen as an inevitable drawback of middle age. When New York Times science editor Strauch first began research for this follow-up to The Primal Teen (2004), her book on adolescent intelligence, faltering midlife brain fitness was considered a given. To her pleasant surprise, her forays into contemporary neuroscience revealed a reassuring discovery.
Aside from usual short-term memory lapses of forgetting names and mislaying keys, the middle-aged brain is more vigorous, organized, and flexible than has been previously believed.
In eleven easily digested chapters, Strauch overviews the latest findings of high-tech brain scans and psychological testing that demonstrate cognitive expertise reaching its peak in middle age.
Although distractions and oversights may more easily prey on the mind, the continued growth of myelin (or white matter) increases problem-solving skills, pattern recognition, and even wisdom.
Supplemented by a section on keeping one’s brain in top shape, Strauch’s work proffers a welcome dose of optimism to every aging baby boomer. --Carl Hays