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What a 94-year-old track star can teach us about aging - The Globe and Mail
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Saturday, Jan. 11 2014

four tips for staying mentally sharp:

Play games

The brain isn’t a muscle, but it works like one in its use-it-or-lose-it dimension. Our brains are way more plastic than we used to think, and a challenged brain can grow new neural connections quite deep into old age. Olga is crazy for Sudoku, the Japanese number game, and she does the hard ones. In pen.

Learn another language

Olga’s Ukranian is a little rusty but it’s there – so she discovered when global interest in her grew and Ukrainian news teams came knocking. A 2013 study by the Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad, India – the largest of its kind to date – found that having a second language delays the onset of dementia by around four-and-a-half years, on average.

Make a mistake, then take notes

To speed up learning, of any skill or subject, we need immediate and specific feedback on our performance. Champion chess and backgammon players promptly review the game they just lost, just as top students promptly review and correct errors. Olga actually happens to have a gene linked to learning from your mistakes. But it’s likely her habits, more than her genes, that are driving the bus here. Very little she does escapes her own immediate and systematic appraisal. In her bowling league, for example, “When I get a strike, I take note of where I was standing and how hard did I throw it,” she says, “and then try to duplicate those conditions.”


Better even than mental activity is exercise combined with it. Exercise comprehensively it beats back cognitive decline as we age. Exercise grows the hippocampus, the brain region associated with making and consolidating memories; it’s what you want to lean on when you start misplacing your glasses, or worse.
aging  howto  cognitive_skills  decline  error_correction  human_errors  journaling  lessons_learned  mistakes  postmortems  systematic_approaches 
september 2014 by jerryking
When the Pieces Put Themselves Together -
July 11, 2012 | NYT |By JENNIFER 8. LEE

Instead of assembly lines, what if manufacturing moved to self-assembly lines?

There is something counterintuitive about seeing toys and furniture that spring together simply when their pieces are shaken around and around.

Doesn’t this go against the principles of entropy we learned in high school science, where order is supposed to dissolve into disorder?

Actually, no. Self-assembly is a well-studied phenomenon on the molecular level — snowflakes, proteins, viruses — and one of the driving forces in nanotechnology. But researchers are taking principles from microbiology and applying them on the macro level — furniture, infrastructure and even buildings for space...Certain principles govern self-assembly. First, there needs to be a blueprint of the ultimate form. Second, the system needs to have forces of attraction that bring together the parts. These can either be magnets or electrostatic forces. Third, error correction has to allow the pieces to “fix” themselves when they assemble in the wrong way. Fourth, an external energy source is needed to activate the assembly. On the molecular level, this is often heat, but on the human scale it can be simple shaking. (It is actually this external energy source that allows self-assembly to seemingly violate the principle of entropy, since entropy is a law that applies only to isolated systems)...Self-assembly is most useful where human hands have difficulty bolting things together — outer space, extreme cold, free fall and deep oceans, he says.
self-assembly  manufacturers  toys  entropy  nanotechnology  error_correction  disorder  human_scale  blueprints 
july 2012 by jerryking

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