Boosting Mental Fitness in Middle Age

A repost from the NYTimes, just food for thought today.


Margaret Riegel

Research shows that education is an essential element to keeping the brain fit as it ages, an issue explored by the New York Times reporter Patricia Cohen in the latest issue of Education Life.

For those in midlife and beyond, a college degree appears to slow the brain’s aging process by up to a decade, adding a new twist to the cost-benefit analysis of higher education — for young students as well as those thinking about returning to school….

Many researchers believe that human intelligence or brainpower consists of dozens of assorted cognitive skills, which they commonly divide into two categories. One bunch falls under the heading “fluid intelligence,” the abilities that produce solutions not based on experience, like pattern recognition, working memory and abstract thinking, the kind of intelligence tested on I.Q. examinations. These abilities tend to peak in one’s 20s.

“Crystallized intelligence,” by contrast, generally refers to skills that are acquired through experience and education, like verbal ability, inductive reasoning and judgment. While fluid intelligence is often considered largely a product of genetics, crystallized intelligence is much more dependent on a bouquet of influences, including personality, motivation, opportunity and culture.

To illustrate how crystallized intelligence can operate, Gene D. Cohen, a founder of the field of geriatric psychiatry, related a story about his in-laws from his book “The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain.” The couple, in their 70s, arrived in Washington for a visit during a snowstorm and found themselves stranded by the train station. When they saw a pizzeria across the street, his father-in-law had an idea. The couple went inside, ordered a pizza to be delivered to their daughter’s house, and then asked if they could ride along.

To learn more, read the full article, “A Sharper Mind, Middle Age and Beyond,” and then please join the discussion on the page with the article.


Your Brain on Computers

Excellent series of articles by the NYTimes.  One of my favorites and I forgot to publish it after I read the last one, oops.

Articles in this series examine how a deluge of data can affect the way people think and behave.

Computer Science

New Programs for Computer Science and Information Technology

This article was in the NYTimes this morning and it was an affirmation of the direction I am putting in place for my school.

New Programs Aim to Lure Young Into Digital Jobs

Jodi Hilton for The New York Times

Dr. John Halamka today is the chief information officer at the Harvard Medical School.


Published: December 20, 2009


50 most frequently looked up words on the NYTimes

N.Y. Times mines its data to identify words that readers find abstruse » Nieman Journalism Lab

If The New York Times ever strikes you as an abstruse glut of antediluvian perorations, if the newspaper’s profligacy of neologisms and shibboleths ever set off apoplectic paroxysms in you, if it all seems a bit recondite, here’s a reason to be sanguine: The Times has great data on the words that send readers in search of a dictionary.