brain power

We're Getting Smarter, People!

Crossword puzzles, sudoko, aerobic exercise, fish oil...for years, baby boomers and seniors have been hearing about the benefits of these things in helping us avoid dementia, Alzheimer's and the general memory loss that accompanies aging. In her cover article for a recent issue of Newsweek, Sharon Begley has even better news. She writes of 31 Ways to Get Smarter in 2012, ways we can not only improve our memory, but boost our overall IQ as much as 20 points.

The really good news about these findings? Nearly all the methods of getting smarter are easy, enjoyable, and cheap. How often do you see those three words in a sentence to describe anything these days??

Of the 31 ways, I was happy to note that many of them are things I already do (drink coffee, eat dark chocolate, play musical instruments, get a good amount of sleep, eat yogurt, drink lots of water) or things I'd like to do (learn a language, visit art museums, go to literary festivals, join a knitting circle, dance). One of the recommendations I know I'll never do (play violent videos games- but hey, that's good news for my son, and maybe why he's a genius. And I thought it was because of my stellar parenting techniques!) These things all look like so much fun, I'm only half surprised they didn't list sports betting as a way to get smarter.

Begley says one of the biggest detriments to becoming smarter is lack of attention. And one the major reasons we've all become a little attention deficit - you guessed it. Technology drains our focus in a hundred ways.  Hence another way to get smarter - toss the Smartphone in the garbage, and get outside and play  games like soccer.

The article accompanying Begley's list is well worth reading, as she delves into some of the neuropsychological reasons the brain either gets smarter (or not) over time. Because just as brain power and intelligence can increase during our lifespan, so can they decrease without the proper care and feeding.

And none of us wants that to happen.

Last week at bell rehearsal I was talking with my stand partner about the article. We've been working on some particularly difficult music, requiring us to come up with some very creative bell changing options. As we discussed ways to get through a particularly difficult passage, we sipped coffee and nibbled on some of the ever-present chocolate squares. "

"Look at this," I told Darcie. "We're getting smarter every minute!"

That's the way to play it.