Crushing It Every Day Of Your Life

The Law of Diminishing Cognitive Returns

old man thinkngThe aging process can create various challenges for us.  As we age, we move slower, talk slower and our memory begins to fail.  This is especially the case for the short-term form of memory ability so crucial for learning new things. Technology reveals aging can cause the brain to shrink. Nerve tracts in the brain shrivel, making the cerebrospinal fluid cavities larger and even leaving gaping holes in the brain.
A likely cause of mental decline in many people is diminished blood flow in small vessels that are easily plugged by cholesterol and fats or ruptured by high blood pressure. These undetected “mini-strokes” are fairly common as we age, yet they cause cumulative, progressive damage. Brain inflammation is often caused by infections such as colds and flu and by diets deficient in anti-oxidants.
However, we now know brain function need not decline with age, at least for people who stay healthy and mentally active. Research shows that a lifetime of vigorous learning helps prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Genes and luck have a lot to do with how well one ages. Even so, gene expression is influenced by things like exercise, diet and mental activity.
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The challenge for aging individuals is to reduce the rate of their decline. This has created a growth anti-aging industry focused on vitamins and supplements, fad diets, gym facilities, mind training programs, and books on memory.  Apparently, these things can work, if they are started while people are in early middle age.
Anything challenging to your brain is good mental exercise. There are many activities available to you to ward off the ravages of age. Learning a new language or musical instrument, reading timeless, inspirational books or even trying out adult colouring books and Sudoku puzzles. Setting goals for yourself will help to give you focus and tangible targets. You’ll reap large benefits from challenging yourself in new experiences and endeavours. Learning new hobbies, and skills will make you feel good about yourself and give you ammunition the next time someone says “you can’t” do something.
Think about it.
2 men playing chess
Til next week.
Keep living your life, friend.


1. Discover Magazine (2012). Special issue “2062 World Almanac.” October.

2. Rupp, R. (1998) Committed to Memory. New York: Random House.

3. Diamond, Marian (1993). An optimistic view of aging brain. The Free Library.

“Dr. Bill,” Senior Professor of Neuroscience at Texas A&M, is author of a new memory improvement book, Memory Power 101 ( and an e-book in multiple formats for students, Better Grades, Less Effort(


I am Canadian and married to a lovely wife for 28 years with two step daughters that I adore. My wife and I are recently retired and are appreciating the time afforded to us to pursue our interests. This blog will hopefully help you and us to discover new opportunities and generate some lively discussion of the topic of enjoying your senior years. Welcome aboard and please sign up for my weekly blog and newsletter. -Enjoy life John

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