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In The Wisdom Paradox, world-renowned neuropsychologist Elkhonon Goldberg argues that though some mental abilities (such as recent-memory recall) decline as the mind enters the “autumn season” of our life span, the brain becomes more powerful in its ability to recognize patterns. As a result, we are able to make decisions at more intuitive and effective levels—a late- emerging mental strength he terms “wisdom.”
In lively, accessible prose, Goldberg delves into the mechanisms of the mind, outlining how the elegant structures of the brain develop and change over the course of a lifetime as they work increasingly in concert. Drawing on recent and historical examples of leaders and artists who achieved their greatest successes late in life—from Roosevelt to Thatcher to Reagan, from Goethe to Grandma Moses—Goldberg illustrates the effects of an emerging scientific understanding of the biology of wisdom. Drawing on the latest research in brain function, he takes to task outdated neurological concepts and argues that new neurons can be created throughout our lives, the left brain’s specialization in pattern recognition accounts for its increased activity as we age, and the strengthening of neural pathways in later years accelerates decision-making processes. Most provocatively, he outlines how a “cognitive fitness” program can both curtail the negative mental effects of aging and enhance our decision-making powers.