The whole right hemisphere of our brain is largely for the function of managing novelty, of handling new information and new situations. The right frontal lobe is for grabbing the information that needs inputting for use in the ongoing development of the brain, solving the challenges of living in the moment.
Your right frontal lobe isn’t busy gathering evidence to keep you convinced that how you reasoned 5 years ago still really works just fine. If it does, you’re in trouble, with a kind of rigidity that comes from wanting to remain safe rather than to encounter what is new and novel.
Your right hemisphere is engaged in encountering all of the new and novel things that are part of an evolving brain that last all of our lives. Does the brain shrink as we grow older? Probably, if you don’t use it. I don’t think Einstein’s brain had any shrinkage. I don’t believe that Monet, who painted into his 80’s, had any shrinkage.
Decline is not synonymous with aging. It is the product of perceived threat, resistance, and rigidity. It happens when you decide that it’s time to get out of the parade and watch it go by. It happens when you rely more and more on what you already know, and use less and less of your brain to learn new things. It happens when you start balking at learning how to text or use a smart phone, or resist learning new technology, not because you are making a choice to learn other more interesting things, but because you are afraid, and have for some reason, made a choice to withdraw, bit by bit, from life.
If you do not use a whole hemisphere of your brain, designed for novelty, and you resist and shut it down, what do you think happens? The brain regresses, it creates disease, and your refusal to cooperate with evolution takes you out of the game one way or another.
What we used to call wisdom, that belonged to those with wide ranges of reasoning, has become a lost concept because we worship youth and sell out to aging as decline. It is a lie of a marketplace selling mediocrity to youthful faces with money to spend on popcorn at the movies.
The brain is unfolding and developing all of our lives, if we will call upon it to do so.
Your brain was not created to retire.
The right hemisphere does not collect Social Security at 65; it collects more novelty and information.
© Dr. William K. Larkin