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brain the swamp - The Literary Exhibitionist
machupicchu
machupicchu
brain the swamp
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09232016-07


-- चार हजार और बावन --


My extracurricular activity last night worked out rather well. I left work at 4:25 and that gave me the perfect amount of time to walk up to the Uptown Theatre on Lower Queen Anne to see the 4:40 showing of this year's Best Foreign Language Feature winner, the truly excellent The Salesman. It has a pretty over connection to the play Death of a Salesman, which, if I had more than cursory familiarity with, would probably make it even easier to appreciate this film. But the film works incredibly well regardless. Had I seen it last year, it absolutely would have been on my top 10 -- and now it'll have to be on my list this year. It took well into the fall last year for me to give a movie a solid A; this year it only took until early March.

The movie is two hours and five minutes long. Add trailers to that, and it let out at about 6:55. I was going to walk all the way home, but I was barely able to catch a #8 on Denny near Aurora, and rode that up Denny to Broadway, where I then got out and walked the rest of the way, getting home soon after 7:30.

Shobhit had a noodle dish ready to eat for me. We ate and we got started on the day's New York Times crossword puzzle. When I finished eating I went to write my review, after which I came out and we finished the crossword. I thought early-week puzzles were supposed to be easier? This one was kind of a bitch for us, and we had to look up a bunch of them. But we finally got it done.

Well, shit. Pooperama! Bad news, Shobhit: turns out the idea that doing "brain games" -- including crossword puzzles -- helps improve memory and stave off dementia or Alzheimer's is a myth. And here's the pertinent passage from that 2014 article in Psychology Today:

What we do know is that brain games improve the specific function that is being trained. So, for example, if you do a lot of crossword puzzles, you might get really good at crossword puzzles. The same goes for Sudoku and any other similar games. But the affects do not spill over to other untrained areas and do not elevate critical frontal lobe brain functions such as decision-making, planning and judgment—functions that allow us to carry out our daily lives. And just like physical workouts, when you stop doing the exercises, your brain loses the immediate gains.

A Time Magazine article from the same year says a better way to boost brain function is aerobic exercise. And then it has this passage, which also seems rather pertinent:

Along with physical activity, your brain needs mental stimulation to stay hale and fit. And when it comes to mental stimulation, novelty is important, Li explains. Here’s why: The more you use your mind to perform a task—whether it’s cooking your favorite dish or driving to the supermarket—the less effort your brain requires to complete that task. “If you feel like your brain’s on autopilot most or all of the time, that’s an indication that you need to increase the challenge a little bit,” she says.

Thus, in all likelihood I will get much better at crossword puzzles with practice, but only because of the practice itself, not because of any improvement in overall cognitive ability. Clearly this can no longer be part of our motivation.

If Shobhit wants me to improve memory function, it sounds like I should be encouraged to exercise more, rather than play "brain games." Or, clearly do things that are new -- hence the reference to novelty. I'm particularly partial to this passage from the Time article as well:

One of the best ways to do that is to stay socially active, Li says. “Following and contributing to a conversation requires a lot of mental prowess.” Visiting intellectually invigorating places, like museums or cultural centers, and learning new skills are also great ways to keep your brain in shape. Even mixing in some variety when it comes to your favorite activities—like trying out a new recipe or cooking technique—will keep your mind off autopilot.

I love socializing and I love conversation! It's easy to get into a conversational rut with Shobhit, both because we're just together so much and also because it's so easy to devolve into arguments. Also, it's too bad he hates museums. I like the ones that are good (not all of them are great), and don't go to them often enough. In fact Ivan and I talked just last weekend about maybe going to a museum sometime, because Shobhit never wants to.

In any case, what's really best is to keep my mind off autopilot. I have actually thought a lot about that over the years, and I honestly think I operate on autopilot less often than most people do (not that I have any actual data to support this claim). I suppose all of this does leave my longstanding weird memory issues a separate conversation then.

-- चार हजार और बावन --


08282016-39


-- चार हजार और बावन --


I just had lunch with . . . Shobhit! A bit of a spontaneous event, that: I completely forgot to bring my lunch, which was leftovers in the refrigerator from dinner last night, and Shobhit offered to bring it to me. What's he got better to do? Actually it was very sweet of him, and I also texted him back that if he brought his own lunch too and we ate lunch here together, then he would get a point on the next Social Review for today. I figured he'd go for that.

It also helped me burn through a couple of small bags of potato chips that were part of one of the many recent goodie bags from brokers. Shobhit declared them bland. What an ingrate. I also shared a raw chocolate confection that I rather like but he declared the chocolate "too dark." There's just no pleasing him.

Two people recognized Shobhit just from being friends with me on Facebook. When we were in the kitchen, Bryan, who works in the Health and Body Care Department, shook his hand and said, "I've seen your pictures!" Apparently someone else said almost exactly the same thing to him in the men's room when he went to the bathroom. All Shobhit could tell me was the guy had a beard. Who the hell do I work with, am Facebook friends with, and also has a beard? Oh! Duh -- I bet it was Ricardo.

I usually eat my lunch here at my computer, but today we set in the kitchen, at the bar area where we could sit looking straight out over Puget Sound. It's a very drizzly gray day today but that view is never not beautiful. It was a very nice, different lunch today. I guess I'm glad I forgot my lunch because otherwise that would not have happened.

-- चार हजार और बावन --


06182016-26

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Comments
jwg From: jwg Date: March 7th, 2017 09:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've read several articles that say dancing is excellent for staving off dementia. I do lots of Contra Dancing and English Country dancing - ~90 days a year. It is a combination of mental and physical exercise that is coordinated - you have to listen to instructions and follow them and interact with other people in the line. Square dancing also would work - but I don't really like the music - it is usually recorded - whereas for Contras and English we have live bands with interesting combinations of instruments.
machupicchu From: machupicchu Date: March 7th, 2017 09:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
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Hmm. It's not coordinated, but I guess my resistance to going out dancing because we've gotten too old for it doesn't really hold water then. 😕
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rsc From: rsc Date: March 7th, 2017 09:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
There's a guy we see regularly at one of the dance series we go to who either is now or is about to be 94. Good and energetic dancer, too.
3 transmissions complete or positive energy please