Saturday, July 2, 2011
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Super-power number one (the middle-aged brain)
The middle-aged brain is a thing of awe, with inductive reasoning, logic, spatial orientation, vocabulary and verbal memory all peaking in middle-age and, for women, the latter two continuing to climb into our sixties (1). It seems that older brains have developed 'cognitive templates', which are better able to predict and navigate life, meaning that the middle-aged brain beats both younger and older brains in such things as managing personal economics, judging true character, and social expertise (no surprises there). In addition the older brain may take a little longer to assimilate new information but when it does, it doesn't just race ahead but manages to take in the bigger picture at the same time (2). That's us, always multi-tasking.
Interestingly, the ready willingness of the middle-aged to blame the temporary loss of car-keys or whatever on a 'senior moment' may be based more on propaganda than fact (3) After all everyone mislays items, all the time, yet you would never find a teenager, for example, blaming their age (instead the typical reaction would be "shit, who the hell took my car-keys? Mum! I can't find my car-keys! Mu-um!"). Besides, when you examine just how much you accomplish over the course of a day it quickly becomes clear that rather than having a 'senior moment', you're having a 'too much on my mind' moment. Which should serve as a sign that you need to sit down, put your feet up and have a glass of champagne. Then you won't need the keys because you can't drive anyway.
Oh, and the catch to this particular super-power is 'use it or lose it', which means that every flick through a trashy magazine, or 1/2 hour spent watching a soapie, (or five minutes with Two and a Half Men), has to be balanced with a crossword, or a suduko, or a viewing of The Lakehouse.
1. Willis et al. (2006). Long-term effects of cognitive training n everyday functional outcomes in older adults.
2. Strauch, B. (2010). Secrets of the grown-up brain. Black Inc. Melbourne.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
A modern, thriving, civilized, financially-sound, technologically-advanced country brought to its knees within minutes. Only to find the nightmare broaden to encompass a third disaster, this one with a potential fallout that is mind-numbing in itself. Nuclear - the word jerks as it is spoken, with the first syllable setting the tone for what follows. And we think Chernobyl, reflected across the sad-eyed faces of posthumous children, or Three Mile Island or any of a bevy of armageddon-type movies, with or without Will Smith saving the day. And we shiver, a little, as we should. Time has yet to tell what effect this unfolding disaster will have on the nuclear industry but one can only hope that we live and learn.
In amongst this horrible awfulness, however, for me, was a realisation of something positive. Something that gives me a glimmer of hope while we, as a world, continue blundering blindly forward like the proverbial bull in the china shop. Something that reflects the seismic shift that has taken place in our global consciousness over the past sixty years. Something that drove the immediate and heartfelt outpouring of sympathy and support and compassion from nations across the globe, from Australia to Canada, America to England, Israel to Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Germany, Iceland, Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Iceland, Morocco, Mongolia and many, many more. 117 countries to be exact. Including New Zealand, themselves still reeling. And if we can step up to the plate as responsible, compassionate, mature global citizens when the chips are down, then there's no reason we can't do the same when they're not. There's strength in solidarity. And that's the way forward.
Thinking of you, Japan, and sending my very best wishes.