Picture four ladies sitting around a card table playing bridge. Nothing unusual in that, right? Well, what if all four are over ninety years of age?
Benedict Carey reports in a May 22nd New York Times article, "At the Bridge Table, Clues to a Lucid Old Age," that these ladies are part of the largest study of mental acuity in US history. Begun in 1981 by the University of California at Irvine, this "90+" study included more than 14,000 seniors, with more than 1,000 of them today over the age of 90.
The study results suggest that "people who spend long stretches of their days, three hours and more, engrossed in some mental activities like cards may be at a reduced risk of developing dementia."
Dr. Claudia Kawas, a neurologist at the University of California at Irvine concludes, "...it's very important to use your brain, to keep challenging your mind, but all mental activities may not be equal. We're seeing some evidence that a social component may be crucial."
Laguna Woods Bridge Club (photo courtesy NY Times)
Blaise Pascal(1623–1662), French mathematician and philosopher
Brilliant as he was, four hundred years ago, Pascal had no way of knowing that what he thought of as "the heart," we know today as the right hemisphere of the brain. Yes, that's right, we have two brains: the left hemisphere handles logic and reasoning (think algebra). The right one (our "heart") deals with abstracts, creativity and emotion.