The Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind

The Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind

3.7 13
by Barbara Strauch
     
 

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A leading science writer examines how the brain's capacity reaches its peak in middle age

For many years, scientists thought that the human brain simply decayed over time and its dying cells led to memory slips, fuzzy logic, negative thinking, and even depression. But new research from neuroscien­tists and psychologists suggests that, in fact, the

Overview

A leading science writer examines how the brain's capacity reaches its peak in middle age

For many years, scientists thought that the human brain simply decayed over time and its dying cells led to memory slips, fuzzy logic, negative thinking, and even depression. But new research from neuroscien­tists and psychologists suggests that, in fact, the brain reorganizes, improves in important functions, and even helps us adopt a more optimistic outlook in middle age. Growth of white matter and brain connectors allow us to recognize patterns faster, make better judgments, and find unique solutions to problems. Scientists call these traits cognitive expertise and they reach their highest levels in middle age.

In her impeccably researched book, science writer Barbara Strauch explores the latest findings that demonstrate, through the use of technology such as brain scans, that the middle-aged brain is more flexible and more capable than previously thought. For the first time, long-term studies show that our view of middle age has been misleading and incomplete. By detailing exactly the normal, healthy brain functions over time, Strauch also explains how its optimal processes can be maintained. Part scientific survey, part how-to guide, The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain is a fascinating glimpse at our surprisingly talented middle-aged minds.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101190081
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/15/2010
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
1,214,294
File size:
273 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Barbara Strauch is the medical science editor at The New York Times and the author of The Primal Teen: What the New Discoveries About the Teenage Brain Tell Us About Our Kids. She previously directed Pulitzer Prize-winning news at Newsday.

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Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Dorothy-from-Michigan More than 1 year ago
Reading about the body and the mind has always been a favorite topic of mine, although I am far from being any expert regarding biology, science or nutrition. I look for books that take complex information and make it understandable to the novice. This book does that and does so with humor written in. Some of the examples of memory loss are so true and yet hilariously funny. The author was able to take the intricate workings of the brain and clearly explain not only how our brain functions physically, but how factors like emotions, memory, IQ, diet, exercise etc. affect the interactions of brain activity. Subtitled, "The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind" lead me to believe that all is not lost and possibilities exist that I may not have considered. I think I may have found some answers in this book. I dog-eared many pages so will pick this book up and read it again. I have recommended it to many of my middle-aged, yet youthful, friends and coworkers.
YoyoMitch More than 1 year ago
It is pleasing to be able to own that one’s brain is “grown-up.” It is challenging to understand what a “grown-up brain” means. When I discovered this book, the title caught my attention (as it hints at speaking to my favorite subject – brain plasticity); it was the subtitle that made the sale.  Having approached, my some definitions, my “middle years,” I was excited to explore what talents I possess now that I have crossed that threshold.  The author, a Science Editor at the New York Times, does an admirable job of researching this topic and translating that research into a clear, often enjoyable read. The book is divided into three sections.  The first, The Powers That Be, is an overview of the “software” that makes up the brain and how it is enhanced (by experience, education, health, etc.) to be far more powerful in Middle Age than was previously suggested. The author discusses research that indicates the Middle Aged brain is agile enough to handle situations, complexities and challenges incomprehensible in earlier life.  The second section, The Inner Workings, highlights how the “hardware” (how the MA brain has been shaped by experience, genes, education, etc.) and “software” (what the MA brain knows and is able to learn) are co-creating a mind that can, with attention and a bit of luck, continue to learn, grow and develop well into one’s 70’s.  This section also introduces how the brain can (and does) regenerate itself over one’s lifetime. This idea is exceptional news for those who have suffered brain damage and takes exception to the long-held idea that brain cells cannot be regenerated.  It is also welcomed by those who are advancing in age without the “curse” of having diminished capacities merely because they are aging. The final section, Healthier Brains, is just that, what can be done to have a healthier (and healthy) brain.  Primary to that end is aerobic exercise.  According to the author, any aerobic exercise produces new brain cells in the memory centers of lab animals (such tests on humans cannot be done due to the “untimely demise” required of the test subjects). Consistent such exercise has shown results in humans based upon cognitive testing. Added to exercise is diet. Eating foods higher in ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) and avoiding (of course) foods high in Trans fats have shown positive results. Some studies have shown low grade stress (like the stress produced by the hunger experienced while dieting, for instance) will improve the brain processes. Most of the studies mentioned by the author are in the early stages or are small sample studies. More than a few, however, are longitudinal (50+ years), broad sample studies, the gold standard of research. This book is a good source for information about what happens to our “minds” as we age. The sources appear to lengthy, broad and well documented. It is easily accessed for reference and in not overly technical, allowing for a wider readership.  It is of depth enough that it needs to be read carefully, it is NOT a weekend read.
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Identified what science was unknown but outlined results of other studies. Interesting. Made me spend time thinking about the content.
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rachel44 More than 1 year ago
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