You’re never too old to learn

People like to say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but it turns out this isn’t true. And this is because our brains are constantly changing. You’ve also often people exclaim, “I learn something new every day!”; and that is entirely true because our brains are taking in hundreds of millions of bits of information every second of every day. They never switch off, ever. It had previously been purported that our brains go offline during nightly slumber, and interestingly it was only round about the 1950s that scientists realised that the brain does not switch off ever, even when we sleep. Sleep is really just another mode when the brain is performing some of the same and also some different functions vital to our survival. You perhaps could call it filing- information gathered both consciously and subconsciously is filtered, categorised, filed and stored with many bits trickling into our dreams. It’s a bit like putting a jet engine on auto-pilot, everything still works, and the engine is still moving, but at a much less intensive pace.

So, if our brains are really as spectacular as science keeps telling us, then why do people still believe that age stops them from learning a new skill? Yes, the first seven years of one’s life are terribly crucial to brain development and our little brains are like knowledge sponges sucking up and holding on to so much information all the time, with little life experience to help filter it all. But the only thing separating a seven-year old and a seventy-year old is likely just a bit of courage and curiosity. Sure, it’s tiring to be curious all the time, and as we age, we can choose to whether or not to engage our curiosity but that does not mean we cannot learn something new.