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Dr. Gene Cohen: Five Activities You Need to Boost Your Brain Power

I’ve just finished reading Dr. Gene Cohen’s The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain. Talk about positive food for thought!

In Dr. Cohen’s book, published in 2005, he tells us that “Research has identified five categories of activity that, if practiced regularly, can significantly boost the power, clarity, and subtlety of the brain and mind.” These include mental exercise, aerobic physical exercise, challenging leisure activities, strong social networks, and “mastery”–the sense of control that comes from learning a skill, for example.

Music to my ears, of course, because writing your memoir addresses at least three of Cohen’s categories.

In my view, writing memoir provides…

  • Mental exercise as you recall memories and find the right words to express them creatively;
  • A challenging leisure activity, as your writing hobby brings opportunities for family history research, reviewing your photo collection, and other related tasks; and
  • An opportunity to work toward mastery as you practice the craft of nonfiction writing.

I could also make the case for strong social networks as a gift of writing memoir. Many people write in small support groups or with writing partners, strengthening their social ties even while pursuing something as intensely introspective as writing memoir.

It’s a stretch but I could even argue that aerobic exercise is useful in recalling and writing about your life. I produce my best work when I retreat with my writing hobby to somewhere in the woods. Interspersing hiking with time spent with a legal pad in my lap, I recover lost memories, gain new insights, and get it all down on paper.

I’ll share more food for thought from Cohen’s book in future posts. In the meantime, join me in the five activities that boost our brains and minds!

-Sarah White

 

One Response

  1. […] task of coming to terms with life. McNees also mentions the work of Dr. Gene Cohen. I posted previously about Cohen’s work on developmental stages in older adults and the benefits of life review. […]

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