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The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain Paperback – December 26, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Old dogs can learn new tricks, says psychiatrist Cohen, drawing on the latest studies of the aging brain and mind. In fact, new scanning technologies show that in some ways the aging brain is more flexible than younger ones. How we look at the "mature mind" may change with the theories and research presented by Cohen (The Creative Age), founding chief of the Center on Aging at the National Institute of Mental Health. Aiming to debunk the myth of aging as an inevitable decline of body and mind, Cohen introduces the concept of developmental intelligence, a "maturing synergy of cognition, emotional intelligence, judgment, social skills, life experience, and consciousness." Expanding on Erik Erikson's developmental psychology, Cohen postulates that there are four phases of psychological development in mature life: midlife re-evaluation, "a time of exploration and transition"; liberation, a desire to experiment; the summing-up phase of "recapitulation, resolution, and review"; and "encore," the desire to go on. Drawing on the results of two groundbreaking studies, Cohen illustrates that the years after age 65 are anything but "retiring," and that creativity, intellectual growth and more satisfying relationships can blossom at any age.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Never mind those "senior moments" in which a word slips away just as it’s about to leave the lips. Cohen has good news for the over-40 set: older brains can learn new things, and they are actually better than younger brains at many types of intellectual tasks. Recent studies show that the brain and mental capacity continue to grow throughout life. This development takes advantage of a lifetime of experiences as well as the emotional mellowing that occurs with advancing age and eventuates in the older brain processing information in a manner quite different from and in no way inferior to the way a young brain performs. Cohen’s own research establishes that both hemispheres of the brain are used more efficiently and that the brain becomes vastly more creative as life goes on. Contrary to the previous belief that new brain cells stop forming after adolescence, the former chief of the Center on Aging at the National Institutes of Health says that growing new brain cells is a lifelong phenomenon. He identifies four developmental phases of the mature brain—midlife reevaluation, liberation, summing up, and encore; cannily supplements his data with anecdotes; and all-in-all offers a shot in the arm to the hopes of millions who wish to remain vital to the end. Donna Chavez
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (December 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465012043
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465012046
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Order it today, read it from cover to cover.
Richad of Connecticut
This book is a strong mixture of anecdote and scientific research in a format that is accessible and enjoyable.
Elisa Robyn
This book was recommended by another aging friend.
James C. Casterline

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Richad of Connecticut VINE VOICE on November 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is EXTRAORDINARY. Every page I read gives HOPE to all of us that the last years of our lives can be beautiful years of thought, of action, of reflection. I have never had the good fortune to hear Dr. Cohen speak, but his voice comes through the pages of this book loud and clear. Just listen to a selection of sentences on just one randomly selected page:

· A life without memory is a ghost life at best

· Our brains have no known limits for memory storage. In other words just because you're old, that doesn't mean you've "used up" your brain's memory capacity.

· You need to understand a bit about the brain's mind-boggling circuitry.

· The limits on memory are logistical, not fundamental. We are limited only by the time we have in life for learning - our brains could contain many lifetimes of information.

This is incredible information this man is giving up. All of the above appeared on page 106. I found the entire book to be chock full of optimistic statements and beliefs predicated on Gene Cohen's lifetime of scientific learning.

I don't know about you, but when I pick up a book, the cover catches my eye, and then the feel. I want see how the pages feel as I turn them. What font does the author used, and how big is that font? Is the author long-winded in his statements? Does the book have an extra hundred, or two hundred pages of filler material, or does the author get to the point? Am I going to take one or two fabulous thoughts out of this book, or is it full of gems on every page, just waiting for me to get at them?

I couldn't put this book down, that's how interesting I found it. Chapter 7 is about "Reinventing Retirement". This chapter will transform your thinking as to what retirement can be all about.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By G. Richard Ambrosius on March 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dr. Cohen's exceptional book sets the record straight on the positive potential of life's second half. He uses current research to demonstrate why older adults should view later life as a time of personal growth and enrichment. He further deomonstrates that what he labels developmental intelligence involves more than just countering the disengagemetn theory of aging but involves "deepening wisdom, judgement, perspective, and vision." This book openly counters aging stereotypes while encouraging people to embrace the potential of life's second half. A must read for everyone age 50 and over and anyone interested in better serving what is quickly becoming the new consumer majority.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By topwoman on March 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Even though I was raised around people who talked about the pains and ill health that accompanied aging, I never quite believed that this was what we were fated to look forward to.

Still, it came as a wonderful revelation that I was not alone in my belief, and that there was strong evidence that aging as a time of decay was little more than a myth.

This book not only provided compelling evidence that aging can be a rewarding period of life, but also provided a new set of expectations about what rewards will accompany the aging process. It was just the motivation I required to deal with what few health challenges I now have, so that I can enter the next phases of my life physically stronger and better able to reap its rewards!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Michael Baumayr on April 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is a historical marker in the rapidly growing field of cognitive development. Standing on the shoulders of Piaget and Erickson, and even Freud, Dr. Cohen creates four distinct yet integrated stages for the mature mind. Together they prove that the difference between adolescence and retirement (like heaven and hell) is about half an inch.
Remarkably readable (and approachable) this book can best be summed up by one of the author's own stories, about Charles Darwin. Darwin's youthful mind took him to the Galapagos Islands, where he gathered insights and information. In his fifties, Mr. Darwin's mature mind coalesced those thoughts into The Origin of the Species.
That is the cognitive difference between intelligence and wisdom, between youth and maturity.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Milton C. Hanson on July 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As a retired Social Worker (81), and having about 25 years in the field of Gerontology, I was first intrigued by a review of the central thesis of this book, "The Myth of the Mid-Life Crisis," in the January 16,2006 issue of NEWSWEEK. The book met my expectations, so have given it as a gift to each of our 3 middle-age children. This book is well written, well organized, and has fulfilled its promise to expand our knowlege of adulthood (Eric Erickson.) I highly recommend it, especially for that cohort of people who are facing early lay-offs, and feeling very insecure about "what do I do now?" It may give many a new feeling of confidence about thier future. I've actually lived the experiences described in the book.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By David B. Wolfe on February 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The Mature Mind is bound to be be a best seller in the short term and perhaps a classic at least for the mid term. This easily accessible book which almost studiously avoids brain jargon draws on the latest developments in brain science to demonstrate the truth of a proposition I went out on a neurologicial limb in making 17 years ago in my book, Serving the Ageless Market. I proposed that in the second half of life a migration of left brain mental functions toward the right brain takes place at higher levels of maturation. The result is that in some important regards the older brain can have functional advantages over the younger brain. According to the science that Gene Cohen reports out in The Mature Mind, that is precisely what happens to many people as they age.

I recommend this book to anyone who serves older people in any capacity, especially those who work in counseling or who are in the business of developing marketing communications for older markets. Why? Because the mature brain processes takes in and processes information differently than younger brains do. Thus, Dr. Cohen's book will help anyone achieve a better understanding older people. It will also lead to better communications with those who have advanced far on the path of what Dr. Cohen calls "developmental intelligence" which signal new levels of cognitive competence among older people that until Dr. Cohen's book has gone largely unrecognized.
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