A fifth misconception: Our functional abilities at any stage of life are a handoff from Mother Nature or the Creator of the Universe

May 6th, 2008 by Dr. Merzenich

If you haven’t done your homework (haven’t read “misconceptions 1-4″), go do it, then read this one. You’ll find those entries on November 7th, December 5th, April 29th, and May 1st. Which lead us to:

Misconception 5. Our functional abilities at any stage of life are a handoff from Mother Nature or the Creator of the Universe.

One of the most common notions about your cognitive losses as you grow older is that they simply express the work of that Mother, Nature. You’re young, you’re old. You’re clumsy, you’re agile. You have a large repertoire of funny stories, you can’t tell a good joke to save your soul. You’re good at math, you’re bad at math. You have a memory like a tack, you can’t remember how to get the bathroom. It’s just your lot, in life — your God-given (inherited) endowment — to be old, clumsy, humorless, bad at math, and desperately looking for the bathroom. After all, YOU, the person that you are, are just a hand-off from the Creator of the Universe (or from Mother Nature).

It’s not true. YOU are a marvelous creation that arose in your brain, shaped in a million ways by all of the things that YOU did in life. Your abilities, your special skills, all of your knowledge, all of the people and specific things that really matter to you, all of those crystallized beliefs and principles that guide and structure your life — ALL OF IT — emerged, through brain plasticity, within your skull, within your lifetime.

YOU are your OWN creation.

YOU are in CHARGE of yourSELF, and of keeping it (your brain) in good shape!

Maintaining the healthy PERSON (brain) is an important goal for any sensible individual, at every age in life. You can always be better, stronger, more capable, more accomplished, still growing in understanding — because your brain is PLASTIC. Because all ability has been/is conferred via its plasticity, and at any age, improvement in brain function can be achieved, and
YOU CAN BE BETTER
.

So the next time you hear yourself saying “I’m just old. My old brain is just wearing out. There is really nothing I can do about it….” just slap yourself.

Stop making excuses and take responsibility for the thoughtless way you’ve been taking care of yourSELF, and get thee to the brain fitness center!