ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Human Brain- an Interesting Area of Research

Updated on August 30, 2011

The older brain is smarter and more efficient

One thing that always baffles me is how opinions shift drastically around what happens to our brains, as we grow older. New findings in research sometimes go as far as negating the previous findings. The article "The aging brain is less quick, but more shrewd" by Michelle Trudeau (found on is an interesting case in point.

Her writing on the older, wiser brain is an interesting read (or listen if you prefer the podcast). This may come as no surprise to anyone who hangs around his or her grand parents. The scientific explanation which brain researcher Gary Small from UCLA gives is, "He points to a continued improvement in complex reasoning skills as we enter middle age. Small suggests that this increase may be due to a process in the brain called "myelination." Myelin is the insulation wrapped around brain cells that increases their conductivity — the speed with which information travels from brain cell to brain cell. And the myelination doesn't reach its peak until middle age. By this point, says Small, "the neuro-circuits fire more rapidly, as if you're going from dial-up to DSL ." The website goes on to quote Small as saying, that there's another area of improvement as we age: empathy — the ability to understand the emotional point of view of another. Empathy increases as we age.


It is interesting to see that we are wired to become more empathetic in our later years, where we are less capable to handle whatever task may be at hand. So our role becomes that of empathizing, counselling and consoling. This is a necessary ingredient in today's society where lack of empathy leads to many sad endings. Ironically, the answer to what we need is "so so like, old school."

Brain cells continue to grow

Contrary to earlier beliefs in neuroscience, the brain does continue to grow. The old theory states that once brain cells die off, they are not replaced. Gary Small, in the same article mentioned above explained that brain cell growth continues through out life. More over our learning abilities could be slowed by age but they are still functional. The interesting trajectory this argument provides is that learning is accessible through out our lives. It is actually exercise for the brain. By that rationale, if a muscle is not exercised, it wastes away. The brain is also like a muscle that needs constant exercise. An interesting point to ponder for those who feel they are too old to learn.

Physical exercise

We are "born-movers." The purpose of movement in our early development was for survival. Either in "fight or flight" situations or simply looking for food. Unlike the brainless sea sponge which waits for its food to come to it. Our brains have developed a complex system that enables us to coordinate complex manoeuvres. By exercising and keeping an active life, we keep the neural system active and thus have healthier brains well into old age.

It is interesting to note that we can continue learning and growing despite our age. Our brains benefit a lot from our lifestyles. An active lifestyle incorporating physical and mental exercise is highly beneficial to a healthier brain. Learn something new everyday!

You can find the NPR article here


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Alladream74 profile imageAUTHOR

      Victor Mavedzenge 

      7 years ago from Oakland, California

      @ Deborrah.Thank you for passing by.Much appreciated.

    • DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

      DeBorrah K Ogans 

      7 years ago

      Alladream, Great hub on brain research! This is quite informative and educational! Very interesting! Voting this one up!!

      Thank You for sharing, Peace & Blessings!

    • Alladream74 profile imageAUTHOR

      Victor Mavedzenge 

      8 years ago from Oakland, California

      Good point Alex

    • AlexK2009 profile image


      8 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      I suspect the apparente slowness of the brain in older people is that they can see more possibilities then younger people and so have to eliminate more possibles as well as the impossibles.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)