Health & Wellness Article - June 2011
by Marge Coalman, EdD, Touchmark Vice President, Wellness & Programs
“Learning is a kind of natural food for the mind.” —Cicero
The history of self-directed learning goes back at least as far as Socrates and arguably even further than that. Lifelong learning opportunities through community-based programs at universities and other organizations are growing. Today, adult learners can pursue both formal and informal training and offerings around the world. The course work and educational tools are as varied as lectures, books, learning tapes, weekend seminars, trips near and far, and now, of course, the Internet.
Originally, scholars thought that exercising the brain to learn new and complex information was really just a review of skills and strategies learned earlier in life. They thought the learning opportunities awakened and recalled previously learned information saved in those fertile storage areas of the brain where long-term knowledge and skills are kept.
Not so! Now we know that the adult brain (at any age) possesses a great deal of neuroplasticity, which allows neurogenesis—the creation of new neurons in the hard drive of the brain known as the hippocampi.
In practical terms, the formation of new neurons promotes and supports learning new information. This provides the workout the brain needs to help stave off the onset of age-related dementia. There is no age limit on new learning. In combination with regular physical activity, good nutritional choices, and enhanced social support, it is an important part of the healthy aging prescription.
Touchmark provides opportunities for lifelong learning through the Full Life Wellness & Life Enrichment Program™ and encourages participation in Brain Builder classes, book clubs, foreign language studies, theatre and the arts, computer training, and more. To participate and contribute to the lifelong learning opportunities, contact a member of the Life Enrichment/Wellness team.