08 June, 2012

Mnemosyne's Daughters

Neuroscience research suggests the brain, as it traverses middle age, gets better at recognizing the central idea - the big picture - by changing in ways that allow greater complexity and deeper understanding.

Furthermore, the brain can continue building new pathways that help us recognize patterns and that see significance and find solutions much faster than a young person. The trick evidently is to keep the connections we already have in good working order and then to grow more of them.

As it turns out we can nudge our neurons to be so and do so by challenging the very assumptions we worked hard to accumulate throughout life, and while it is important to bump up against people and ideas that are different, we need to go further and challenge our long held perceptions of the world.

We used to rely on the Muses to grace us with such inspiration and keep our minds in peak condition. My favorites always been the three original Boeotian muses, especially Mneme, but I'll happily receive inspiration from any of the more traditional nine that Zeus fathered with Mnemosyne.

Since these goddesses can be capricious, only one thing is certain. With one eye on senescence, I shall cherish any number of real life Muses - those most significant of others from among friends and family who can help keep my mind and soul growing.