Here's Another Reason to Ditch Brain Training

By William Vogeler, Esq. on November 25, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

So you're not that good at Sudoku. Maybe you can't spell it, or even know what it is.

No worries. It's not as bad as you think, especially if you are an aging lawyer trying to train your brain with games and puzzles. (Sudoku, if you were wondering, is one of the most popular puzzles in the mobile world today.) Brain training, it turns out, might not be such a good idea after all because getting older is getting better.

Older May Be Wiser

According to psychologists at Harvard and the University of Toronto, mature brains are more creative and better at unconventional problem-solving than younger ones. Like aging wine, the aging mind may actually be wiser.

While older usually means slower, the research shows that slower processing can lead to better solutions. Mature lawyers, for example, draw upon their experience to associate more information in abstract problem-solving. The enhanced ability, ironically, stems from the diminished ability to focus on a specific task that often comes with age.

The younger mind is better at focusing intently on a task and shutting out distractions. A young attorney, for comparison, may be more quick-witted in a heated debate or more focused on a deadline. Researchers call it "cognitive control."

Uncaged at My Age?!

The researchers found that older people, uncaged from such cognitive control, were able to make broader or unexpected associations and connections. In one study, mature adults showed superior creativity in "remote-associates tasks." The task "requires participants to produce a fourth word distantly related to world triplets -- e.g. 'space' for the three words ship, outer and crawl."

Based on their studies, the researchers concluded that an aged mind is wise because it brings in more relevant and irrelevant information into decision-making. "The extended knowledge or 'wisdom' of older adults may support decision-making that relies on prior experience," the authors said.

"Given that real-world decisions rarely occur in isolation and often depend on past experiences, older adults may be better equipped than young adults to make such decisions."

So if you're worried about training your aging brain, relax. You can put down the mobile device and stop playing games. Take that, Pokemon Go. If you ditch brain training, you'll also have more time to study up on the latest tech skills that every lawyer needs to learn.

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