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The Age of Novel Thinking

Prime Women

Sandra B. Chapman

When you think about your brain performance, at what age do you believe it was functioning at its peak? When do you feel that you were in your optimal mental zone? As a cognitive neuroscientist, I have asked this question hundreds of times all over the country to women and men of all ages. It never ceases to amaze me that people almost uniformly respond that their peak brain performance occurred when they were a decade or so younger – no matter how old they are now!
Overturn Status Quo Thinking
My admittedly unscientific survey underscores to me what I have seen throughout my career in research and applied science: most people are stuck in an outdated understanding of their brain and its power. The idea that intelligence is innate has been deeply ingrained in conventional wisdom for the past century. Exemplified by the traditional IQ test, the belief is that our brain’s capacity is fixed – and there is nowhere to go but down. Today we know that this is simply not the case. Over the course of my career, I have witnessed incredible advances in our scientific understanding; nearly everything we once believed about the brain and its capacity has been overturned. Indeed, I have devoted my life’s work to this new and constantly expanding knowledge about the brain’s capacity to adapt and get stronger, better, as we age.
Your Frontal Lobe Holds the Key
Mid-life is a great time to tune in to our brain’s performance. Imagine the possibilities if you could combine the speed and flexibility of your younger brain with the wisdom and efficiency of your brain today. I’m here to say that it’s possible, and the way to do it is by engaging your frontal lobe functions. The frontal lobe sits just above our eyes, inside the skull. It represents about one-third of the whole brain and serves to orchestrate our capacity to reason, think abstractly, innovate, and integrate our higher-level thinking. It is our brain’s command center. It is the last part of the brain to fully develop. Even more crucially, its dynamic power allows us to think smarter, more efficiently and more deeply as we age. Perhaps this is why it is sometimes referred to as the “seat of wisdom.” In short, it is entirely possible to have the speed of processing of a younger-working brain as well as the wisdom and experience that come with age – the best of both worlds! Read full story on Prime Women. Published on Prime Women May 25, 2020

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Sandra Bond Chapman, PhD

Chief Director Dee Wyly Distinguished Professor, School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences Co-Leader, The BrainHealth Project


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