Saturday, October 15, 2011


ADVENTURES OF THE BRAIN
            Last month I asked you to tell me how old you ‘feel’ in your head.  The reason I asked the question was self-serving.  My brain stopped ‘aging’ at about 35, and I wondered if I was experiencing that phenomenon alone.  (Truth be told, I wondered if I was a freak of nature!)  Anyway, I posed the question to you, friends and family.  Now I’m going to give my take on the results and ask you to comment further.
            I am not alone!  A world of humans are out there with forever young brains.
            Young people don’t even understand the question.  My twenty-some nieces and nephews, gave me funny looks, shook their heads at their nutty aunt, and named their actual age.  My theory: people don’t entertain the idea of a brain age younger than their chronological age until after forty.  Any thoughts on that?
            After the age of 60, people pick a brain age at least twenty years younger than their physical age.  My 79 year old cousin is merely 55 in her head so she can’t believe what she sees in the mirror.  (My solution-avoid mirrors, or only look in them when the light is dim.)
            For a few folks over the age of 60, the question raised discomfort. One 60-plus person who experienced the death of her mother, felt like nineteen again…a child, adrift and alone.  Another person, aged 65, weighed down by family issues, was convinced his brain felt like 80.  Some people seemed surprised by the dichotomy I raise, a little irritated or confused by the concept of a young brain.  I guess they figured I should let that sleeping dog snooze away.
            Not me.  I find the idea interesting, especially as a writer.  This may explain why I like to write about characters in their thirties and why a wide range of 40-plus readers enjoy my novels. 
            Another question to explore: is there some kind of biological advantage for a person’s brain age to lag behind body age?  Maybe the brain is made of stuff that doesn’t age like muscles and joints and eyes…purposefully.  Could be that brains needs to stay extra agile in order to operate our deteriorating bodies. 
            Clever manufacturing or cruel joke, the phenomenon is strange… how we look into the mirror at wrinkling bodies with much younger eyes.  What do think about this curious state of affairs?

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6 comments:

Vonnie Davis said...

I'm 63 and after your post I asked my brain how old it was. What criteria does one use for such an assessment, I wondered? My brain flicked a piece of broccoli off its tooth and hissed, "Just tell her I'm 39, thinking about turning 40. And since I don't think much about it, I'm staying 39."

Ana Morgan said...

I just did the same thing, Vonnie. I'm about to be 61. My husband says I don't look my age. Some gray hairs, but I keep my hair long, which makes me look younger. I hate mirrors, too, and refuse to have a full length one in the house. I work physically hard and can lift more than most men my age (except for my husband. Farming does that to one.) But mostly, it's all about how one thinks. My kids' friends think I'm the coolest mom, and ask to be adopted. I ask if they want to hear about the olden days when I was a hippie.

Mona Risk said...

Rollyn, what a fantastic question. Same age as these young ones above. I feel forty-five, that is still active and energetic, but add experienced and more mature. LOL My brain plans to stay there for many more years to come.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Vonnie, Ana and Mona, the way you all answer the question tells the story...full of humor, enthusiasm and energy. I mean, Vonnie's story about developing characters and making sales on the way into an operation proves Vonnie is nowhere near 60. Same with Ana, the coolest mom around. And we all know about Mona, who seems to conjure a new book a week! We are women who like our young brains, aren't we?

Josie said...

This is a very interesting topic, Rolynn. Our brains tell us we are much younger than we really are. My brain likes to tell me that I am forever 35.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Josie, we're the same brain age! Cool.