the Internationale.” So experience works in that sense.
A clue to why they are thriving may have something to do with a broader perspective and
empathy. A recent CNN article on The Aging Brain: Why Getting Older Just Might Be
Awesome is revealing that empathy, critical to innovation and the human-centered design
process, allow designers to connect with and better understand the clientele:
Put another way by design legend Steve Jobs when he spoke to Wired in the 1990s:
‘A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experience. So they don’t
have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without
a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the
human experience, the better design we will have.’ (Enayati, 2012).
As Gene Cohen, the researcher who has studied the capacity for hemispheric fluidity in the
brain recounts how people in later life feel the compelling need to find meaning in
summarizing the larger story of their life and giving back. Cohen does not just attribute this
to having more time on their hands and traces it to new research on the hippocampi:
Recent studies by Eleanor A. Maguire and Christopher D. Frith, of the Institute of
Neurology at the University College, London, have discovered a pronounced
difference in the activation of the hippocampi of younger and older adults when they
are recalling memories from their lives. The older adults used both left and right
hippocampi in their tasks, whereas the younger adults used primarily their left. These
findings are consistent with those from studies of other brain regions showing greater
use of both brain hemispheres in older people. I hypothesize that using both
hippocampi during recall of life events creates a richer, more vivid experience
because the brain is drawing on a broader palette of resources for the task. . .Using
both hippocampi may also simply make recollection itself a more vivid and
pleasurable activity. I think the brain, in effect, relishes the chance to deal with
autobiography in later life and to do so using both engines, so to speak. (Cohen,
2005, p. 77)
In essence, those with a healthy creative brain have their mental engines revved up and
that is why dismissing the creative contributions of older media workers is not only ageist
but also a tragic waste of innovative intellectual capital.
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