As we get older, the brain gets more set in its ways. The neural pathways and patterns get deeper, easier to run and harder to change. "In a rut," the saying goes, although when the saying was popularized we had no idea it was so apt all the way down to the neural level.
Why do old brains get into ruts? It isn't because old neurons work differently then young neurons. It's only because we get out of practice of re-organizing the neural net. We forget to learn new things and to shake up the old neural net by finding ways in which it doesn't work well and re-wiring to fix them. Since it takes time and energy to re-org, we'd rather not re-org, if we don't have to re-org.
Ruts and re-orgs are mirrored in the social and science levels as well, since society and science is, in a way, just a product and an extension of our beliefs and neural wiring interacting with everyone else's.
Here's a neat TED talk that may be able to demonstrate an opportunity to re-org at both brain and social levels. Maybe it will shake up your neural net a little bit and give you the opportunity to re-organize your beliefs and/or thinking the way you do a spring cleaning in the garage. It also proposes a shake-up and clean-out of current scientific thinking around how humans evolved to be the way we are.
In what ways are humans different than our closest genetic relative, the ape? Do those differences offer us clues as to the history or environment that shaped those changes? Elaine Morgan says yes.
Enjoy her TED talk, "Elaine Morgan says we evolved from aquatic apes."
Elaine is hereby nominated for being my new hero. :)