Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Scientific Literacy Test

Are you scientifically literate?  50 questions, not much math.

Sad to say I missed 6, a few things I forgot, one simple math error and one thing I never knew.  Which brings us to...

The Middle-Aged Brain
A study in the British Medical Journal lit up the Internet last week with the conclusion that cognitive decline begins at age 45. While it’s true that some innate skills like memory and speed of reasoning fall off as we age, other aspects of intelligence related to learning and experience actually improve.

These findings are part of a wave of new research on the psychology and neuroscience of middle age. Like baby boomers before them, Gen X-ers are learning that entering middle age often means getting squeezed between the demands of raising children, holding down a job and taking care of aging parents. But despite the high levels of stress, people in their 40s, 50s and early 60s generally have a happier outlook than their younger counterparts. They feel more competent and in control — that they can personally take steps to influence what happens in their life. They are also less neurotic, more open, reflective and flexible.
Why ...? One theory is that the older people get, the more importance they place on maintaining a sense of well-being, even if it means downplaying contrary information. In this case, nature and nurture may be working hand in hand. By middle age, people have had their share of life experiences; they have had the opportunity to learn how to cope with a canceled flight, an office feud, a broken ankle, a nagging parent, a traffic ticket or a lost cell phone. These experiences are imprinted on the mass of brain cells, carving new neural pathways and cataloging responses that can be retrieved as needed. This may be why people in middle age report that they are better able to handle stressful conflicts with their friends and family members and that they feel more capable of riding herd on their own emotional ups and downs. Something that may have floored them when they started out is taken in stride in their middle decades.
So even though the brain slows down, the experience more than compensates. Good news, I guess...

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