Get Schooled

Challenge


When’s the last time you called yourself a student? If you’re like most adults beyond their university years, it’s been a while.

Close your eyes for a second and think of something you’ve always wanted to learn. Everyone has at least one thing they always wanted to try but didn’t. For some people it’s learning the guitar or piano, for others it might be welding or knitting. What about building your own website or baking a cheesecake?

If you can identify a skill you’d like to learn, commit to take a class to learn how to do it. Classes are available everywhere, from the community center to the library, local art studio or gym. If you can’t find a class local to you, try to find one online where you can watch a teacher’s lessons from your computer or tablet.

Why does becoming a student impact your brain health? When you learn a new skill, you’re challenging your brain. There’s no expiration date on your brain. It can learn new skills even after you’ve long completed university. In fact, the more you learn, the more you are able to learn.

Acquiring a new skill benefits your brain’s plasticity, or your brain’s ability to adapt and change based on new experiences. Feeling intimidated? Bring a friend with you to class. You’ll learn a new skill and build a relationship, two factors shown to reduce cognitive decline.

References

  • Bavelier, D., Green, C. S., Pouget, A., & Schrater, P. (2012). Brain plasticity through the life span: learning to learn and action video games. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 35, 391–416. doi: 10.1146/annurev-neuro-060909-152832