Posts Tagged ‘Baby Boom Generation’

A Few Words of Caution to My Fellow Baby Boomers

September 14, 2011

Although I enjoy writing the Healthymemory Blog, I am usually disappointed when I view the number of visits to what I regard as important posts. For example, the preceding posts on Alzheimer’s has not drawn the number of readers that I think these posts deserved. As a psychologist, I understand why these posts are not popular, but I am disappointed nevertheless. People are optimists, so they avoid unpleasant topics. Consider the situation in which we find ourselves. Issues regarding the environment, energy, and the national debt are ignored. People blame politicians, but we should not forget that it is these same people who elected these politicians. Politicians pander to voters by glossing over these issues and being optimistic; voters then vote for them.

Alzheimer’s is not a pleasant topic. The prospect of spending our golden years being unable to recall our past, where we are living, and barely remembering who we are. The Myth of Alzheimer’s is written by one of the foremost experts on Alzheimer’s. He warns us that a magic pill or cure is unlikely to be found, but he provides us with activities that can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. These posts should be of interest to a large number of baby boomers. Even if you are engaging in these risk reduction activities, you probably know fellow baby boomers who are not. Why not sent these posts to those people? And please keep reading the Healthymemory Blog so I can try to keep you up to date.

The Healthymemory Blog is dedicated to these activities. There are many from which to choose. It is important to choose activities that are enjoyable to do. In many ways these activities are similar to physical activity. Sometime I do not feel like going on a bike ride, but after doing so I feel exhilirated and am very glad that I went. I think you will find a similar result for some of the cognitive exercises presented in this blog.

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Cognitive Training and Fluid Intelligence

July 24, 2011

An earlier Healthymemory Blog Post, “Improving Cognition”, reported an interesting and important study on the successful training of fluid intelligence. Crystalized intelligence refers to knowledge that we have learned. Fluid intelligence refers to the ability to comprehend new information and to solve problems. Typically, it is fluid intelligence that declines as we age. Absent dementia, crystalized intelligence remains fairly constant and can increase. So, although this study was done using elementary and middle school children, it still holds promise for us baby boomers. Research using baby boomers is in the future. This experiment was too detailed and complicated to include in a short blog post. Fortunately, this research is available on line for free. It is “Short- and long-term benefits of cognitive training” by Susanne M. Laeggi, Martin Buschkuehl, John Jonides, and Priti Shah. It is available at www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1103228108.

The experiment did present evidence not only for the boosting of fluid intelligence, but also for its successful transfer after a 3 month hiatus from training. Unfortunately, not all students benefited from the training. Only those students who performed well on the training tasks exhibited the benefit. Students who had difficulty with the training tasks did not show the benefit. The authors also presented the following conclusion, which is as valuable as the findings themselves.

“We conclude that cognitive training can be effective and long lasting, but that there are limiting factors that must be considered to evaluate the effects of this training, one of which is individual differences in training performance. We propose that future research should not investigate whether cognitive training works, but rather should determine what training regimens and what training conditions result in the best transfer effects, investigate the underlying neural and cognitive mechanisms, and, finally, investigate for whom cognitive training is most useful.”

When you read statements like, “IQ cannot be increased”, or “Cognitive training does not transfer to other tasks,” remember that you cannot prove that there is no effect. Rather, the null hypothesis (no difference) fails to be rejected. The distinction here is subtle, but important. Moreover, the conclusion is restricted to the particular training programs, and to the population of subjects from which the sample in the study was drawn. So we need to understand why programs work and for whom they work. And when programs do not work we need to understand why and for which populations they do not work. Then they need to be modified so that they do work for specific populations. And we need to research for whom different types of cognitive training are most useful.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Healthymemory Blog Wishes You a Happy Thanksgiving!

November 24, 2010

And, of course, a healthy memory. The Healthymemory Blog pursues this objective via three themes. One is to provide theory and data about human memory and cognition. Another theme is to provide memory techniques and results bearing upon the effectiveness of these memory techniques and how they may facilitate a healthymemory. A third theme is called Transactive Memory. This theme explores how technology and our fellow human beings can enhance memory health.
     The author of this blog is at the leading edge of the Baby Boomers. Although this blog should be of special interest to Baby Boomers, it should be of interest to anyone interested in the workings of memory, in techniques for improving memory, and in how technology and fellow humans can enhance memory health.
     Look under “Categories” in the right hand border of this blog. One category, Overview, provides a general overview of the Healthymemory Blog that is quite similar to this current blog post. Human Memory: Theory and Data provides information about human memory and cognition. Mnemonic Techniques presents specific techniques for improving memory. It is also thought that employing these techniques, in addition to improving memory, provides exercise to the brain that promotes memory health. One can find an entire memory course under this category. The category, Transactive Memory, provides information on how our fellow humans and technology can promote brain health. You will also find here topics regarding how the internet works and problems and dangers regarding the internet.
     Just click on the category to get to your current topic of interest, Remember that blogs are presented in reverse order. So to get to the beginning of the category, you need to go the the bottom and start from there.
     You should be able to find something of interest. There are 151 postings for your perusal.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Elder Wisdom Circle

September 19, 2010

The Elder Wisdom Circle is a group of more than 600 elders (aged 60 to 105) who dispense advice. The have a website, www.elderwisdomcircle.org, which is a large success. Although they provide advice to anyone who asks, most of the users are in the 15 to 35 age range. It is good to know that so many young people value and seek the wisdom of their elders. And it is good to know that there are elders willing to go on to the internet and dispense their wisdom. Given the age range of the elders, there are already baby boomers in the group. The percentage of baby boomers in the group should grow as the years go on.

Generally speaking, western cultures are not known for their appreciation of the wisdom of the elderly. Popular knowledge says that this appreciation is found in eastern cultures. But the wisdom of the elderly is worldwide and should be used. There is evidence that companies with a decent proportion of older workers are more productive that those that consist primarily of the young. This is known as the Horndal effect. The name of the effect comes from a Swedish steel mill where productivity grew by 15% as the workforce grew older. This is good news for aging societies.

However, for the elderly to be productive it is incumbent upon them to continue to learn as they age. Indeed, it is important for everyone to continue to learn throughout their lives. Elderly who become set in their ways and spend most of their time reminiscing about “the good old day,” will be limited in what they can contribute. But the elderly who continue to learn are invaluable. The older the person is the richer the context into which new information is incorporated. So it is not only how much knowledge one has as a function of age, but the richer context into which new knowledge is incorporated. 

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.