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Training the Grownup Brain: Gray Matters Workshop Open to Public

We’ve all had one of those moments. A train of thought derails. An anniversary is overlooked. A name’s forgotten. The middle-aged brain may be forgetful, but an upcoming AARP workshop explains memory loss can be slowed and parts of the noggin get better with age.

“Gray Matters: Training the Grownup Brain” will be held June 18 at Little America in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Participants will learn how physical exercise, good nutrition, and mind games give brains a boost. Registration is required for the free event and lunch will be provided. The workshop is being held in conjunction with the 15th annual AARP National Spelling Bee for spellers age 50 and older, which takes place the following day in the same location.

Barbara Strauch, health editor for The New York Times and author of the book The Secret Life of the Grownup Brain, will offer the keynote speech. While older brains suffer some memory loss, she maintains, they make up for it in other ways.

“The brain slows down in processing speed, but what we gain is years of pathways and connections that build up,” Strauch said.

Research shows when a person forgets something—maybe the name of a town she visited years ago—she may have stored clues elsewhere in her brain that can be triggered by using a few simple memory-jogging techniques like running through the alphabet until she hits the first letter of the word she is trying to remember.

Moreover, grownup minds make better decisions, Strauch explained. They’re better at problem-solving, in part because they can apply a greater array of experiences. She says that more complex functions of the brain, the ability to reason, argue and comprehend, actually improve with age and experience. And financial judgment peaks around age 50.

“What we have is a brain that may forget a few things, but on balance, it’s functioning extremely well in manipulating the environment and navigating the world,” Strauch said.

Register at www.aarp.org/spellingbee or call 1-877-926-8300.

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