Scientists Just Found a Way to Help Your Brain Work Like It’s 30 Years Younger
The media has recently been full of stories of rich, middle-aged men going to sometimes absurd lengths to reduce their “biological age.” Tech entrepreneur Bryan Johnson, for example, has recruited over 30 health experts to monitor and support him as he undergoes sometimes highly experimental medical treatments and fitness plans. These extreme health regimes might make for attention-grabbing headlines — and even potentially interesting science — but they are expensive, elaborate, and sometimes downright dubious.
Just about everyone may want to look and feel younger and healthier, but multimillion-dollar investments and broccoli smoothies are not for everyone. Still, that doesn’t mean the less hardcore among us are out of luck if we’re hoping to turn back the clock on our brain health.
New research by a team of psychologists uncovered a simple way just about anyone can get their brain working like it’s decades younger.
To have the brain of an 18-year-old, learn like one.
You probably don’t need science to tell you this, but people’s cognitive acuity generally starts to level off in their 30s and 40s before declining more markedly in their 60s. Most of us write our slower responses and memory lapses off to the unavoidable indignities of aging. But what if they were just the adult equivalent of the “summer slide” that affects kids, a pair of researchers wanted to know.
“Every year teachers and parents observe how summer vacations lead some children’s academic progress to backslide,” observe psychologists Rachel Wu and Jessica A. Church in Scientific American recently. “After formal education and job training ends, many adults experience years, if not decades, of reduced or nonexistent learning opportunities.”
So is declining cognitive performance more about rustiness than biology? To find out, the team rounded up a group of 33 adults over the age of 55 and signed them up for classes to learn new skills, from singing to Spanish. Presumably the participants got better at karaoke and ordering at their local Mexican restaurant, but the actual skills they gained weren’t the most impressive benefit of this seemingly simple experiment.