The drive to learn

At Sharp Brains, Improving Driving Skills and Brain Functioning.

This interview with Dr. Jerri Edwards of the U. of South Florida discusses studies on the functional abilities of older adults, specifically in the area of “driving fitness.”

Edwards goes beyond the facile notion that any sort of activity can improve cognitive function.  Doing crossword puzzles, she says, has not been shown to improve specific cognitive skills (“other than the skill of doing crossword puzzles”).

…it is too early to say whether we can really reverse decline in a permanent way. There are many skills involved and the studies are not long enough to really compare different trajectories. What we can say is that by doing some exercises, one can improve cognitive speed of processing by 146-250%, and that a significant portion of that improvement stays even after 5 years. We cannot say more definitively.