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.
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