First cup of coffee at 5:00 this morning. My mind drifts to yesterday when standing in line to pick up a Walgreen’s prescription I observed the woman ahead of me challenged at the task of recalling the last four digits of her phone number and by the request that she use a key pad to enter the four digits. Will that be me in a few years? Is that me now? What was that password again?
I no sooner write a blog piece about memory failure and about brain fitness training and I am inundated with emails about the topic. Am I paranoid? Or is Big Brother, Google,Siri or some Cookie Monster watching me?:) I’ve explored that topic before in another blog piece. This deluge of emails reminds me of the time I was investigating subliminal perception claims and my beloved canine companion dog, Robin the Newf, started receiving snail mail about cassette tapes that promised subliminal messages which could improve her self-esteem, memory and libido.
A glance at my email suggests a number of “brain fitness training” opportunities. A Brain U Online gives me a friendly reminder of the availability of a brain training session invitation. I receive an invitation from Blinkist suggesting that I read a synopsis (hmm–Wordpress originally wrote the word “synapse” for me—-spooky) of the book Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect your Brain for Life. I am alerted in another email that Episode #4 (of 10) “Six ‘Brain Hacks’ to Enrich Your Brain” from a gohibrow.com course awaits. An interesting NPR story invites me to explore the brain enhancing benefits of bilingual education. I receive an invitation to take an AARP approved “Life Reimagined” (and United Health Care supported) free online course on “Brain Power: How to Improve Your Brain Health” taught by Wendy Suzuki, Ph.D. There is ad from Posit Science to become a “Smart Cookie” ( there is that Cookie Monster again!) by joining their “…unique braining program … which unlike others… is backed by more than 100 published scientific papers”… I think that I’ll send them as a holiday gift a copy of the most recent review in Psychological Science in the Public Interest whose link I included in my earlier post.
How does one separate the wheat from the chaff of these claims? Which avenues are promising and which are merely advertising promises. Will I really get smarter with five-minute lessons delivered to my inbox every morning? Do i want to? Would I be well-served by following my heart and attempting to (re) learn long forgotten Spanish? Should I become involved in creating Elder hostel educational experiences? Maybe I should learn to play the piano like my great grand nephew Cole! So many questions. What fun to try answering them with students, seniors, data, and critical thinking over the next few years. Stay tuned.