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The Myth of Cognitive Decline: Elderly Know More and Use it Better: Jeremy Dean

The Myth of Cognitive Decline: Elderly Know More and Use it Better:  Jeremy Dean | What works at work | Scoop.it

Linguistic experts argue in new research that people’s brains do not slow down with age, but actually show the benefits of experience.

Tests that had previously been taken to show cognitive decline as people age, they maintain, are actually showing the effects of having more information to process.

 

The linguists, from the German University of Tübingen, publish their findings in the journal Topics in Cognitive Science (Ramscar et al., 2014).

While accepting that physiological diseases of old age clearly exist, they say that the usual cognitive changes associated with age are exactly what you’d expect as the brain gathers more experience.

 

Remembering names

 

As linguists, they decided to test their theory using words–specifically the number of words that a person learns across their lifetime.

They set up a computer simulation to model this. As the simulation got ‘older’, it began to slow down as it learnt more words–exactly as people do with ageing.

 

The lead author of the study, Michael Ramscar, explained it like this :  “Imagine someone who knows two people’s birthdays and can recall them almost perfectly. Would you really want to say that person has a better memory than a person who knows the birthdays of 2000 people, but can ‘only’ match the right person to the right birthday nine times out of ten?”

 

It’s not that people are forgetting words with age, it’s that there are more words competing for attention.

 

People face a similar problem with names: as they age, they learn more names, so one name is harder to recall because it is competing with a larger pool of alternate names in memory.

 

On top of this, names have become varied.

 

The authors give the example that in the 1880s, when trying to recall a woman’s first-name, there were about 100 equally possible alternatives.

Due to the greater variety in first-names now, however, you’d be trying to choose between 2,000 likely alternatives.

 

Age and experience

 

Even better news for the ageing population, the linguists argue, is that older people are actually making better use of the extra information that comes with experience.

 

On some tests, related to learning pairs of works, older people do better as they have access to more words which have been learnt over a lifetime.

 

Biology

 

What, you might wonder, about all the neurobiological evidence that the brain’s cognitive powers decline with age?

 

Well, excepting real diseases like Alzheimer’s, scientists have only discovered that the brain changes with age, not that these changes are the cause of any cognitive decline.

 

It has only been assumed that neurobiological changes in the brain are related to cognitive declines, since these two were thought to be happening simultaneously.

 

Now that there are questions over whether cognitive declines are really there, these neurobiological changes may have to be reassessed.

Is cognitive decline a myth?

 

If cognitive decline with age really is a myth then, the authors worry, simply being told that your brain slows down with age is damaging.

That’s because when people are told they are getting more stupid, they behave as though this were true.

 

The authors conclude by saying: “…population aging is seen as a problem because of the fear that older adults will be a burden on society; what is more likely is that the myth of cognitive decline is leading to an absurd waste of human potential and human capital. It thus seems likely that an informed understanding of the cognitive costs and benefits of aging will benefit all society, not just its older members.” (Ramscar et al., 2014).

 


Via Jim Manske
Liz Read's insight:

There are hints here on how to treat older workers. If you suggest they are slowing down, they slow down. Probably a better idea to factor in the extra processing time and praise them for their experience. 

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What works at work
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The Skills Employers Really Evaluate

The Skills Employers Really Evaluate | What works at work | Scoop.it
Increasingly, employers are taking a hard look at so-called soft skills when hiring and promoting workers--and when it comes to these kinds of skills women actually have an advantage. Hard Skills vs.
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What Is Business Flexibility?

What Is Business Flexibility? | What works at work | Scoop.it
Business flexibility is how well a company can adapt to changing circumstances and still remain profitable. Factors that affect...
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Making work more than just a job

Making work more than just a job | What works at work | Scoop.it
Most companies have value statements, but what can chief executives do to ensure they add meaning and are more than rhetoric?
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6 Ways to Increase Employee Engagement: How “Attitude Reflects Leadership” | Talking Point | The Disney Institute Blog

6 Ways to Increase Employee Engagement: How “Attitude Reflects Leadership” | Talking Point | The Disney Institute Blog | What works at work | Scoop.it
If you value highly engaged teams, you must foster a highly engaging work environment, and be a highly engaged team member yourself.
Liz Read's insight:

"Engagement reflects Leadership".

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Killing the Crunch Mode Antipattern - Chad Fowler

In the software industry, especially the startup world, Crunch Mode is a ubiquitous, unhealthy antipattern. Crunch Mode refers to periods of overtime …
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The Myth of Cognitive Decline: Elderly Know More and Use it Better: Jeremy Dean

The Myth of Cognitive Decline: Elderly Know More and Use it Better:  Jeremy Dean | What works at work | Scoop.it

Linguistic experts argue in new research that people’s brains do not slow down with age, but actually show the benefits of experience.

Tests that had previously been taken to show cognitive decline as people age, they maintain, are actually showing the effects of having more information to process.

 

The linguists, from the German University of Tübingen, publish their findings in the journal Topics in Cognitive Science (Ramscar et al., 2014).

While accepting that physiological diseases of old age clearly exist, they say that the usual cognitive changes associated with age are exactly what you’d expect as the brain gathers more experience.

 

Remembering names

 

As linguists, they decided to test their theory using words–specifically the number of words that a person learns across their lifetime.

They set up a computer simulation to model this. As the simulation got ‘older’, it began to slow down as it learnt more words–exactly as people do with ageing.

 

The lead author of the study, Michael Ramscar, explained it like this :  “Imagine someone who knows two people’s birthdays and can recall them almost perfectly. Would you really want to say that person has a better memory than a person who knows the birthdays of 2000 people, but can ‘only’ match the right person to the right birthday nine times out of ten?”

 

It’s not that people are forgetting words with age, it’s that there are more words competing for attention.

 

People face a similar problem with names: as they age, they learn more names, so one name is harder to recall because it is competing with a larger pool of alternate names in memory.

 

On top of this, names have become varied.

 

The authors give the example that in the 1880s, when trying to recall a woman’s first-name, there were about 100 equally possible alternatives.

Due to the greater variety in first-names now, however, you’d be trying to choose between 2,000 likely alternatives.

 

Age and experience

 

Even better news for the ageing population, the linguists argue, is that older people are actually making better use of the extra information that comes with experience.

 

On some tests, related to learning pairs of works, older people do better as they have access to more words which have been learnt over a lifetime.

 

Biology

 

What, you might wonder, about all the neurobiological evidence that the brain’s cognitive powers decline with age?

 

Well, excepting real diseases like Alzheimer’s, scientists have only discovered that the brain changes with age, not that these changes are the cause of any cognitive decline.

 

It has only been assumed that neurobiological changes in the brain are related to cognitive declines, since these two were thought to be happening simultaneously.

 

Now that there are questions over whether cognitive declines are really there, these neurobiological changes may have to be reassessed.

Is cognitive decline a myth?

 

If cognitive decline with age really is a myth then, the authors worry, simply being told that your brain slows down with age is damaging.

That’s because when people are told they are getting more stupid, they behave as though this were true.

 

The authors conclude by saying: “…population aging is seen as a problem because of the fear that older adults will be a burden on society; what is more likely is that the myth of cognitive decline is leading to an absurd waste of human potential and human capital. It thus seems likely that an informed understanding of the cognitive costs and benefits of aging will benefit all society, not just its older members.” (Ramscar et al., 2014).

 


Via Jim Manske
Liz Read's insight:

There are hints here on how to treat older workers. If you suggest they are slowing down, they slow down. Probably a better idea to factor in the extra processing time and praise them for their experience. 

more...
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Women in the Workplace: Assertive vs. Aggressive By Erika Kelley

Feminist.com's Activism section
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Social Science Lite: He’s Assertive; She’s a Bitch

Liz Read's insight:

Gender privilege and intersectionality. If I express myself forcefully I am judged harshly. But if I don't I'm ineffective.

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How to be an Assertive Woman in Leadership

How to be an Assertive Woman in Leadership | What works at work | Scoop.it
Image source She said, “Violating gender stereotypes,” in response to, “What unique challenges do women in leadership experience.” I asked the question at the beginning of a presentation for a Woma...
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Rescooped by Liz Read from Talent Management; Engagement
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Collaboration & Six Ways to Make It Work

Collaboration & Six Ways to Make It Work | What works at work | Scoop.it
Collaboration is described in the Oxford dictionary as;"working in combination with another".  It sounds so simple doesn't it?  But of course we all know that 'simple' does not always equate to 'ea...

Via Anne Leong
Liz Read's insight:

Yes!

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Grandmother becomes advisor for tech startup - Video on TODAY.com

Grandmother becomes advisor for tech startup - Video on TODAY.com | What works at work | Scoop.it
Video on Today: Natalie Yellin, the 75-year-old grandmother of one of the developers of the tech startup Square, has become something of a consultant for the company, helping with everything from hiring new employees to giving out much-needed hugs...
Liz Read's insight:

As an older woman who has worked in IT for a very long time I do find this somewhat patronising. But it does show the power of social networking ... and the power fo hugs! 

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Too Few Women in Fed Tech Jobs; Too Many Challenges for Them

Too Few Women in Fed Tech Jobs; Too Many Challenges for Them | What works at work | Scoop.it
EEOC cites similar patterns in the private sector.

Via Kim Wilkens
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Flexibility.co.uk - Europe's leading website for smart and flexible work resources

Flexibility.co.uk - Europe's leading website for smart and flexible work resources | What works at work | Scoop.it
Flexibility, the online journal of flexible work
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Google helps launch women-tech incubator at 1871

Google helps launch women-tech incubator at 1871 | What works at work | Scoop.it
The Motorola Mobility and Lefkofsky foundations also are backing 1871FEMtech, with the aim of closing the gender gap in Chicago's startup scene.
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Gore-Tex gets made without managers

Gore-Tex gets made without managers | What works at work | Scoop.it
Hi-tech pioneer WL Gore is weathering the crunch well, says CEO Terri Kelly, because it is mercifully free of bureaucracy. Simon Caulkin talked to her
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12 Ways to Energize Leaders for Employee Engagement

David Zinger explains how energy contributes to employee engagement and shares 12 ways you can increase your leaders’ energy.
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Why Empathy Is Your Most Important Skill (and How to Practice It)

Why Empathy Is Your Most Important Skill (and How to Practice It) | What works at work | Scoop.it
TL;DR: Empathy is the most important skill you can practice. It will lead to greater success personally and professionally and will allow you to become happier the more you practice.
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The Big Jelly Theory - News - Peak Performance PM

The Big Jelly Theory - News - Peak Performance PM | What works at work | Scoop.it
The Big Jelly Theory December 20, 2013 Some years ago, whilst progressing through several very large international organisations engaged on complex...
Liz Read's insight:

What a brilliant aproach to organisational change!

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Quit Being a Pushover: How to Be Assertive

Quit Being a Pushover: How to Be Assertive | What works at work | Scoop.it
Your boss consistently asks you at the last minute to come into work on the weekend. You say "yes" every time even though you have family plans. You stew with
Liz Read's insight:

Of course, men are encouraged to be assertive.

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Why is being an assertive woman seen as aggressive?

Why is being an assertive woman seen as aggressive? | What works at work | Scoop.it
Liz Read's insight:

I don't like some of the language used here. I think 'bitching' or being a 'bitch' is what happens when women are dispempowered, so I try never to use those words. But I do like the refreshing way this article looks at the 'assertiveness' double standard. Culturally we praise men for being assertive (and aggressive) but not women. So how is an assertive woman meant to get ahead. Being wishy-washy isn't going to work!

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Are ‘Undiscussables’ Diminishing Your Team’s Effectiveness?

A colleague of mine recently joined the Board of Directors of a favorite non-profit with much enthusiasm, only to discover how much drama was going Read More

Via Anne Leong
Liz Read's insight:

http://undiscussables.com/

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The Key to Employee Happiness: Total Autonomy & Accountability

The Key to Employee Happiness: Total Autonomy & Accountability | What works at work | Scoop.it

Via Anne Leong
Liz Read's insight:

Really?! I'm not sure where this leads. 

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Women coders break new ground, and stereotypes - Video on TODAY.com

Women coders break new ground, and stereotypes - Video on TODAY.com | What works at work | Scoop.it
Video on Today: More and more women are entering the tech world, looking to make their marks in the computer programming field and find long-lasting careers. NBC special anchor Maria Shriver reports.
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Rescooped by Liz Read from Love Learning
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Plan Your Free Online Education at Lifehacker U: Summer Semester 2013

Plan Your Free Online Education at Lifehacker U: Summer Semester 2013 | What works at work | Scoop.it
Your education doesn't have to stop once you leave school—freedom from the classroom just means you have more control over what you learn and when you learn it.

Via Love Learning
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Love Learning's curator insight, May 22, 2013 5:00 AM

Here's a run down of all the free online courses running this summer. Most of them are Massive Open Online Courses. This means you will be in a group of 1000's of other students from around the world. Courses will normally consist of video lectures, assignments and discussion forums. 


There's some amazing free learning to be had, but you need to be enthusiastic and motivated to make it through a MOOC. Don't underestimate how much work is involved. On the other hand who says you have to finish it, it's free and you can just pick and choose the bits you are itnerested in if you're not too fussed about gettign a certificate at the end.