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Archive for February 8th, 2010

Rorschach Inkblot #3

This weekend, I caught a PBS panel discussion about brain games designed to stimulate plasticity, cut the odds of Alzheimer’s disease, and generally keep the brain “young” and agile. The three experts on the panel conducted a very interesting exchange on the story that is emerging from the research. The commentary that especially captured my interest included the facts that:

  1. The best brain exercises involve the mix of multi-sensory experiences ( olfaction, touch, hearing, taste, etc.).
  2. Sudoku and crossword puzzles are less valuable for enhanced plasticity though practice will make you better at Sudoku and crossword puzzles.
  3. Challenges that involve social interaction demanding creativity are likely to yield greatest benefit.

So, what’s good for the brain is good for the soul: time spent experiencing challenges that demand creative and imaginative reactions in a social setting. Having to attune ourselves to the differences among people, to adjust to different communication and problem-solving styles, and think on one’s feet in response to challenging questions posed by others are all wonderful nourishment for the brain.

It is isolation, insulation, radical individualism, separation, social distancing and solitary pursuits that stand in the way of the great discoveries about ourselves and the farther reaches of our creative capacity. After all, in writing a novel, we populate the story with characters in dialogue working through their respective and intersecting dramas. While we may write while alone, it is the social engagement and experience that determines the richness of the writing.

One of the most enriching and revealing exercises that I’ve enjoyed is improvisational theater and actors exercises in spontaneously playing out a role. It is no wonder that actors are often better able to read other people than professionals whose job it is to accurately do so.

Spirituality and neuroplasticity are endemically social. It is in communion with the Other that our consciousness truly evolves.

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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