Stop using your mental skills – you’ll lose them. It’s similar to losing physical skills – If you’ve ever had an arm or leg in a caste you know how muscles atrophy.
In middle age, after formal education is finished, careers established, children in school, we have a tendency to not challenge ourselves to learning new things and our brain “muscle” is not stimulated. Start learning again and “fuzzy” thinking sharpens up. However, it takes motivation to stretch ourselves by working our brains hard – learning new things that may not be necessary for daily living or survival.
Clean & Jerk by Judy
The Good News
When you learn anything new your brain creates a brain map. As you learn your brain map for the information or skill enlarges, becomes more efficient and unneeded pathways – thoughts or actions – drop out, leaving the essentials.
Your brain gets faster at the skill as the brain signals become sharper, more powerful.To create more “brain muscle” you need concentrated focus, need to pay attention. Striving and focus stimulate the brains attentional system, the nucleus basalis. This area secretes acetylcholine which helps the brain make sharp memories. People with mild cognitive impairment show very little acetylcholine in their nucleus basilis.
Even Better News
Even “old folks” can tune their brains by focused attention. However, even more intense concentration than when younger is needed to get the brain chemicals going that regulate plasticity.
While genetic factors are 10%-15% responsible for the development of the degenerative brain disease, engaging in preventive activities such as reading, learning new professions, and trying to learn poetry by heart, are among the practices that can help deter the risk.
Source: Norman Doidge “The Brain that Changes Itself”
“A new scientific model of forgetting is taking shape,which suggests keeping multiple memories or tasks in mind simultaneously can actually erode them.”
“Neuroscientists already knew that memories can interfere with and weaken each other while they are locked away in the recesses of long-term memory. But this new model speaks to what happens when multiple memories are coexisting front and center in our minds, in a place called “working memory.”‘ “It argues that when we let multiple memories come to mind simultaneously, those memories immediately lock into a fierce competition with each other.” When these memories are tightly competing for our attention the brain steps in and actually modifies those memories,” says Jarrod Lewis-Peacock, a neuroscientist at UT Austin.”
“The brain crowns winners and losers. If you ended up remembering the milk and forgetting the phone call, your brain strengthens your memory for getting milk and weakens the one for phoning your friend back, so it will be easier to choose next time you’re faced with that dilemma.”
I’m so smart. I’ve been employing this strategy for years! The only problem is when I remember what I forgot, I forget why I needed to remember what I forgot to remember.
P.S. I forgot to tell you that you can read the entire article