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.

1 comment:

  1. Pool, or Billiards, is actually very mathematically intensive on the brain. The entire game is based on geometry and planning out your different angles. This article just reinforces that I'm going to force my kids to learn how to play early on. Hopefully it helps in school in a fun way.