Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Make Pool a Serious Hobby, Reverse the Aging of Brain

First, watch this 26 minute lecture:

Michael Merzenich: Rewiring the Brain

Modern neuroscience gives us the perfect reason to constantly strive to do better in our skills: to reverse the cognitive decline due to aging. We're used to thinking that with age comes the decline of cognitive performance, but recent studies are beginning to show a radically different story. We can reverse the aging of the brain, but it requires a certain type of lifestyle.

Merzenich gives a summary of a "well-ordered older life" in one of his slides:

  • Continuous new skill acquisition. 
  • A rich variety of ongoing new experiences. 
  • Continuous "content acquisition" (what most would define as 'learning').
  • A re-connection with the real world. 
  • A positive, joyful, inquisitive temperament, i.e., FUN!
  • A serious approach to new learning, and to life. 
  • And often, necessarily, a regular schedule of exercise at the 'brain gym'.

It's not enough that you play a complex game like pool-billiards, but that you constantly challenge yourself in your hobby and do it seriously too. As Merzenich says, don't go on autopilot in your life. If you've found a hobby that you love, make it a life-long journey to constantly learn new things and to re-fresh and fine-tune your current skills. (Think of a concert violinist, who has to practice each day just to keep his/her job.)

This new research in neuroscience should give us plenty of additional reasons to improve ourselves.