Just a Thought
An Ageing Society is a right-minded society
No field in science is experiencing such explosive growth as brain science. Once thought to be fully matured by adolescence, neuroscientists now assert that brain development continues until around the mid-20s. But even that may be proven wrong. Posit Science forecasts that brain fitness is about to become big business.
In this connection, Posit Science works in collaboration with more than 50 brain scientists at leading universities to address neurological disorders, reverse age-related cognitive decline/Alzheimer’s Disease, and to develop therapeutic programs that enhance people’s abilities to remain sharp and vital throughout life. More recently, the company has developed a computer-mediated program that can reverse age-onset cognitive decline among 70, 80 and even 90-year-olds by an average of 10-plus years and by as much as 20 and even 30 years.
On 18 January 2006, CBS correspondent, John Blackstone, reported a lead story about this breakthrough on its Sunday Morning News program Think Again:The Human Brain. Much of the report focused on the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program which has been shown to significantly improve brain function in studies among people 50 years and older. Participants in the studies were interviewed, as were prominent scientists,Reference http://www.positscience.com.
It is no wonder then that David B Wolfe, founder of Ageless Marketing, says
It's time we stopped dismissing middle age as the beginning of the end. Research suggests that at 40, the brain’s best years are still ahead. — http://www.agelessmarketing.com
In fact, in the late 1980s Wolfe published his book "Serving the Ageless Market" proposing that people tend to draw more on the brain’s right hemisphere in organising perceptions, thoughts and decisions in later life. Few brain researchers would have made such a claim at the time he wrote that book; and psychiatrist Louis Kopolow, who wrote the foreword, cautioned him about making such a representation, especially because he was not a brain scientist, but simply a social marketer who loved reading about the brain and mind. Here is the story of how he came to formulate his hypothesis about increased influence of the right brain on perceptions, thoughts and decisions in later life. Wolfe says:
“In the 1970s, I read about psychobiologist Roger Sperry’s studies of ‘split brain’ patients—patients whose hemispheres had been surgically disconnected after suffering life-threatening seizures. For the first time, scientists were able to study the brain’s right and left hemisphere independently of each other. While the operation stopped the seizures, Sperry discovered that there were in effect two minds in one brain—one emanating from the brain’s right hemisphere, the other from its left hemisphere.
“So astonishing and of such fundamental importance was Sperry’s work with split brain patients that he was a recipient of the 1981 Nobel Prize in medicine.
“By now, nearly every one knows that the left hemisphere is the 'rational, analytic' side of the brain while the right hemisphere is the 'emotional, creative' side of the brain. The left brain parses reality in bits and pieces and sorts them into separate categories. The right brain interprets reality in terms of relationships–how what comes to its attention is connected to the contents of its environment. It is the pattern-seeking side of the brain. The left brain is more comfortable with rules than the right brain, which often looks for untried paths to accomplish something.
“Not long after reading about Sperry’s work in brain lateralisation, I began delving into the work of Abraham Maslow. To my astonishment I discovered that Maslow’s description of people who had reached the advanced state of psychological development that he called self-actualisation somewhat paralleled Sperry and Bogen’s description of right brain specialty functions. Maslow reported that he encountered few people under the age of 60 who had reached a state of self-actualisation. Thus, I concluded, there is a correlation of age with the rightward tilt of older brains. I also concluded that people who were lagging developmentally and operating at lower levels of intellectual expression likely did experience little, if any, shift toward the right brain in later life, and thought that this would probably be more commonplace among older people in the lower socioeconomic brackets.”
Now, as we all witness, many years after Wolfe postulated the hemispheric shift hypothesis, it is being confirmed with the aid of brain imaging technology. What we now learn about the brain is radically altering our view of the mind throughout the seasons of life, especially in the final decades of life. For instance, brain scientists have now determined that the brain has a previously undetected plasticity that enables it to "rewire" itself in the latter years of life when it was formerly thought brain power inevitably waned like a battery about to expire.
Not only this, as more science studies on Brain Fitness are released to highlight what kind of activities actually rejuvenates the brain, a new sub-branch of marketing called Neuro-marketing has coming up to match brain span to the extended life span of the 21 st century.
More on this topic in future issues ….
Project Manager and Editor, Quality4life Programs
10 April 2006