Taking the High Road

Posted on February 26, 2018


Life in the Boomer Lane no longer has any need to remember all of the fabulous, fun-filled adventures that she and Now Husband have partaken of. When he starts a sentence with “Remember when we went to…?” she cuts him off with the same question: “Did I have a good time?”  All she is looking for is a “Yes” answer. She has no need to recall the charming Parisian bistro where they had coffee each morning (although she does recall mentioning to Now Husband that she wanted to make off with one of their charming coffee mugs and he called her a rude American) or the exact look of the small Nebraskan fort in which Crazy Horse was shot (She was, at the time, more concerned with her bottomless ire at anything involving the US government and the Indian population.).

In other words, she has become comfortable with her ever-decreasing memory.  She is convinced that the person who invented the increasingly popular  “live-in-the-moment” movement must be an older Boomer.  Living in the moment is simply a clever way of saying there is no need for memory.

Then suddenly, this month, Psychology Today published news of a 12-week study done by researchers at the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas. These researchers, bored with any number of other brain health research, turned their attention to what they call “Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Training (SMART). LBL considered this for a moment and was happy that SMART was the eventual snappy acronym. Had it been otherwise (i.e.: Cognitive Reasoning Advanced Programming or Training Reasoning Under Memory Programs), there might have been a problem finding funding.

And now, back to the study.   Fifty-seven participants, described as “normal, healthy men and women ranging in age from 56 to 71” were divided into three groups. The first was a cognitive training group. The second was a physical exercise group, as aerobic exercise has been proved to increase brain functioning. The third was wait-listed.  LBL isn’t sure why “wait-listed” was part of the study. Hopefully, these people didn’t have to sit in a waiting room off the main research area, with only old copies of Family Circle Magazine to occupy them.

The cognitive training group “learned to focus their attention while eliminating irrelevant information, interpret information in a broader context, find multiple ways to approach mental tasks, and minimize their fear of failure or the unknown.”  This training was way more successful than what researchers called “lower-order cognitive functions…such as memory and comprehension.”

Bingo. There you have the true value of the study. Now, when LBL is confronted by anyone asking “Do you remember when…?” she can answer that she no longer wastes her time on lower-order cognitive functions such as memory.  She only directs her attention to higher-order functions, as per recent SMART research out of the University of Texas. Hopefully, the person she is speaking to will also have a memory issue and will not be able to find the research and then come back to her to drill her on those “higher-order functions.”