This Google Talk is presented by Dr. Michael Merzenich. It is about the plasticity of the brain, brain development and aging. Training programs for adults, strategies, exercises, etc. Training programs for children, and Merzenich’s blog about the subject. The presentation itself is 60min long, but followed by 30min of interesting questions and explanations, so stick around to the end (in fact the last 30min are probably worth the most). Some of the advices given are about broad engagement and exercising the brain on multiple levels and in various ways. Stress and focus on everyday activities that may engage brain and multiple cognitive and sensual aspects, re-connect to the real-world and pay much more attention to details and try to avoid abstractions and generalisations. Pick up a musical instrument classes, or learn a new language. Be more attentive, and aware of the surroundings and details of the reality around. Reconnect to the immediacy of life around.
The activities can be new, and can be old and already mastered, but in that case the work needs to be done on the cutting edge, must engage new areas and force thinking and new ways of rewarding. Any activity that can be done on auto-pilot mode, even if really advanced and done above average, will have little impact on the learning abilities of the barin.

This leading edge research in many ways relates back to the “beginners” concept of Zen, and to the “no generalisations” rule, and “immersing in reality” or being constantly real. Seems as if humanity knew most if not all of it on certain level before, and expressed it all through a system of rules and guidance and behavioural patterns that maximised the quality of life that the research and the scientific learning programs are trying to re-establish.

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