A special issue of Science looks at the mechanisms and contexts of successful brain aging. The development of the brain through one’s entire life is affected by genetic, physical, and psychological factors. One thing we know for certain, our mental lives benefit when we lead lives that are not only physically healthy, but also intellectually challenging and socially engaged.
As we age, our brains constantly reorganize in response to new experiences, a process called neuroplasticity. Reading, writing, games and puzzles are incredibly fun and helpful. Even after horrible physical or psychosocial trauma, such as a stroke or a loved one's sudden death, there is a phenomenal level of flexibility in the brain that enables an individual to compensate and cope, and return to brain health.
How can we interpret this brain aging study? Stay healthy, be mindful, have good friends, and have novel experiences that create strength and joy. Feldenkrais Awareness through Movement is a perfect example of a novel experience leading to better overall organization and brain health. See if you can find the joy in it!