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Changing your mind as you age Carlos R. Davalos | Sat, Sep 25 2010 12:00 PM

Several recent scientific studies reveal the human brain, as it ages, is capable of growing.

The determination is contrary to the widely held belief that the brain stops growing once an individual enters their 20s.

Researchers obviously hadn't studied me or, for that matter, the average Glenn Beck/Sarah Palin/Tea Party or Oakland Raiders supporter.

If someone like me - who on occasion forgets what he is talking about midway through his own run-on sentence - were included in the research, scientists would have found that the older you get, the more likely it is your brain wanders and narrows. Or is it the mind that closes and, as they say, farts more often?

There was a time when I didn't have to think twice about where I had placed my sunglasses. But now, more often than not, I will spend 20 minutes turning over every cushion and pillow in the house only to find them on top of my head. Or in the fridge.

Also, when I was younger I used to think tattoos and body piercings were a cool, interesting form of expression.

But now I see tatooed arms, legs and necks and think the ink-stained wretch is a big attention-seeking dope who is expressing his individuality along with all the other look-at-me-I'm-unique dopes out there.

What kind of mental growth is that? About what you'd expect from a mental midget, I suppose.

Turns out the studies were talking about neuroplasticity, or the brain's actual physical ability to develop new cells and pathways.

The studies suggest that as the brain attempts new tasks such as learning a foreign language or how to play an instrument, new brain cells are created.

The hope is that as cells are created then the greater the likelihood that mental acuity remains high. And with greater acuity comes less deterioration.

In other words, a growing brain could be one way of staving off Alzheimer's.

So listen all you health care reform abolitionists. Take heed you government-fearing alarmists. Maybe for the sake of your own mental health you'll stop nattering at the top of your lungs and you'll give some thought to new ways of thinking.

If I promise to work on my narrow-minded views about body art and freedom of expression, will you give some thought to the idea that maybe, just maybe, the government isn't always out to screw you and healthcare for everyone is a good idea?

As for members of Raider Nation, well, take solace in the axiom that ignorance is bliss because sadly, there's no hope for you.

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