Brain Health Isn’t all Work

I remember adults saying to my brother, “How come you can remember every line to Star Wars, but you can’t remember your spelling words?” I always thought that was, well frankly, a stupid question. Because clearly, he didn’t care about the spelling words and he cared about Star Wars…duh, Grown-ups. Eesh.

My brother is a super smart and talented person, even as an adult. He is also the exemplification of learning what interests him and excelling because of it and not worrying so much about “the rest.” There is merit to that, I feel.

I see it in Marcus, too.

If we want Marcus to learn something new or to perfect a skill, make it fun or at least, for God’s Sake, interesting. So, just as we explored the benefits of moving and exercise to brain health, we’re now going to touch on the benefits of continual learning.

Here is an example we are exploring.

courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech

courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech

Exploring the Red Planet

As part of the National Geographic Speaker Series at the Omaha Holland Center,

Kobie Boykins (an Omaha native, by the way) will share stories about his work on the famous Mars rovers, as well as show the latest images from Mars. He will also talk about the future of space exploration. In an interview with the Omaha World-Herald in 2012, Boykins talked about how the Mars missions will hopefully excite children. “I really believe,” he said, “that missions like this really push the boundaries of what we can do in science, and really open people’s eyes. To me, it’s the young ones for whom everything is possible if they put their minds to it and put in the hard work.”

So even though the press release has many long words about engineering and exploration accomplishments, we’re looking forward to this presentation to be brain expanding and exciting.

Did I say expanding, I really mean changing. No. really. 

Check this out:
Each time you learn something new your brain makes a new “connection.”  Over time the more of these connections you make the more efficient your brain is and it becomes much better at processing information. When we are young we are constantly learning new things and as a result this is though of as the biggest period of brain plasticity in our life. When we get older and more set in our ways we spend less time learning new things which results in a decline in our brain plasticity.

From How Learning Changes Your Brain Plasticity

I’m not fooling people – This is good stuff! Every time we decide to learn something new instead of, say…play solitaire or backgammon on our Kindle for hours (like I am sooooo inclined to do), we help our brain to remain healthy. You know I’m not making this up! Choosing a lifestyle of learning is critical to brain health.

Kobie Boykins was awarded a NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal in 2013, one of the highest honors given to NASA employees and contractors, and did I mention he’s from Omaha? I don’t know, but I’ll bet he chooses to challenge his brain regularly and the fact he’s sharing those challenges and experiences is pretty cool.

Watch the Video

disclosureI showed this video to Marcus, wondering if he’d be interested in the show. (To be fair, the fact that it is at the Holland Center did get his attention.) So he stood by my desk and watched the whole 5 minutes and once it ended he said, “Wow. Ok. I’ll try.”  Then went to tell Quinn, “Space at the Holland Center.”

The show is Tuesday April 22nd at 7:30 PM and, surprisingly, there are still tickets available, so if you want to improve your brain while being entertained- check it out.

What are you doing for YOUR Brain this week?