See the New York Times story about the aging brain? Remember any of the details? No? Then, it's probably a good idea to check it out. There's both good news and useful advice for keeping your mind sharp.
First, the good news: A middle-aged person, while more easily distracted and more likely to forget details, has mental gifts that younger people don't usually have. "The brain, as it traverses middle age, gets better at recognizing the central idea, the big picture," writes Barbara Strauch. "If kept in good shape, the brain can continue to build pathways that help its owner recognize patterns and, as a consequence, see significance and even solutions much faster than a young person can."
And while researchers have long believed that the aging brain suffers significant brain cell loss, Strauch says that scientists in recent years are doubting this: "What is stuffed into your head may not have vanished but has simply been squirreled away in the folds of your neurons."
So what will it take to nourish and reawaken your brain? Get out of your comfort zone, confront contrary ideas and shake those synapses. Here's what Dr. Kathleen Taylor, a professor of St. Mary's College of California and a student of the brain, says: "As adults we have these well-trodden paths in our synapses. We have to crack the cognitive egg and scramble it up."
And this: “There’s a place for information. We need to know stuff. But we need to move beyond that and challenge our perception of the world. If you always hang around with those you agree with and read things that agree with what you already know, you’re not going to wrestle with your established brain connections.”
That's good advice -- for brains of every age.