light bulb  copyright Felix_Mockel iStockPhoto #000006201684
photo copyright Felix Mockel from iStockPhoto #000006201684

As a child, I often heard that brain cells did not replace themselves, that intelligence was a matter of genetics, that you couldn’t teach old dogs new tricks, and that aging meant losing at least some of your marbles. Lies! Now we know that what you do with your brain today can make you smarter tomorrow–or not!

Whatever else I teach, I always emphasize learning how to learn. We’ve learned much about the neurology of learning in general, how your particular brain might work, how to recover from a brain injury, how to stretch beyond your natural inheritances, and why you don’t want to mess with substances. (In my BYU Honors seminar on brain anatomy, we dissected about eight brains. Estimating alcohol use and abuse was the easiest question on the final exam because brains dramatically dissolve from the inside out. Believe me, you want the teetotaler brain.)

Many of my students are computer experts, and they’ll never create a greater computer than their internal drive. Protecting, rewiring, reprogramming, upgrading your brain is exciting work. There’s more your brain can do for you than it’s ever done before. You can acquire a new skill, and even master new habits of thinking and feeling.

A great resource for keeping up with brain research is Sharp Brains. Here’s one of my favorite articles, naming the most important ways to maintain and retrain your brain–from attitudes to actions, from nutrition and exercise to love and laughter: 10 Habits of Highly Effective Brains

See also my post on the correlation between writing and healthy aging: Now is the Time

Text © Gwyn Nichols 2010

Photo © Felix Mockel from iStockPhoto #000006201684