to one that explores potential. Cohen challenged the belief that the “older adults can’t
learn as well as young people” and was also clear to point out that it was the ravages of
disease and not aging which affected the brain (Cohen, 2005, p. 3). This caused a
significant transitional shift “from seeing negative changes with aging as being one’s destiny
to a new view of modifiable age-associated problems was a huge leap in itself” (Cohen, G.,
2006, p. 7).
Cohen’s research belies the notion of devolved creativity as we age and suggests that
there are areas where the mature brain can be advantageous:
The brain is continually resculpting itself in response to experience and learning; new
brain cell do form throughout life; the brain’s emotional circuitry matures and
becomes more balanced with age; and the brain’s two hemispheres are more equally
used by older adults. (Cohen, G., 2005, p. 4).
The new advances in studying the plasticity of the brain shatters the belief “that nerve cells
cannot re-grow and the brain does not create new neurons” (Cohen, G., 2005, p. 11).
Cohen suggests that challenging mental activities and vigorous physical exercise seems to
‘juice’ the brain. Csikszentmihaly, the author of Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of
Discovery and Invention, admits he was surprised at how many of the people involved with
his groundbreaking creativity study expressed little change as they aged:
In general, the respondents did not see much change between their fifties and
seventies, or sixties and eighties. They felt that their ability to do the work was
unimpaired, their goals were substantially the same as they had always been, and the
quality and quantity of their accomplishments differed little from what they had been
in the past. (Csikszentmihaly, M., 1996, p. 212)
Although the media industry is pro-youth, reflected in both personnel and production, the
emerging research poses a significant shift in our viewpoint on aging when it comes to
creativity and is challenging conventional thinking. In fact, the freelancers involved with this
project are not only working but also serving as role models in the creative industries (e.g.
advertising, film, television, video, etc.), which were never really age-friendly territory. Why
are they thriving? They draw on a wealth of experience and are able to complete the job
efficiently and within budget. Nobody is hiring them as eye candy and they already come in
poised to work with a reputation for creativity, dependability, and having a different point of
view. The other factor in their favor is that age is not as pressing for freelancers since they