Let’s Not Forget Our Brain

Posted: September 16, 2012

Recently, I met a friend after several years and we spent a couple of hours  going down memory lane, bemoaning the effects that Time had wrought on us, and catching up with the good and bad tidings. Just before we parted, I went about the now-common method of ‘noting’ down her cell phone number…

“Give me a missed call on my number and I will save that as yours.”

This saved me the effort of searching for a pen and paper or my diary from my cavernous purse to note down the number and thereafter to call her. In view of our existing 10 digit-cell phone numbers, this may be a forgivable practice.

In fact, the cell phone seems to have become a permanent feature of our lives. Speaking to others is just one of its functions as the device itself offers several unique features that help ‘organise’ our lives. We can and do use it to record appointments, reminders for appointments, make shopping lists, record birthdays and so on and so forth. If the ubiquitous phone was not enough we now have notebooks, tablets to take over any tasks not covered by the cell phone and allow our brains to ‘outsource’ such ‘trivial’ tasks.

I know of students who simply photograph time tables put up on college notice boards and presumably refer to it as required on the particular day. This eliminates the need to note down the subjects, class rooms or timings! Another student uses the cell phone to note down music notations during the music class (one more note book done away with!). I know of Professors who email their lecture- presentations to students. The students in turn presumably read and learn from them. Thus occasional wandering of minds during class will not mean losing out on any information. Knowledge is passed directly into their PCs and their brains remain stress-free till exam day.

As home makers, very few of us make shopping lists on scraps of paper and the ‘diary’ as it was known some years ago has almost perished.  It was used to keep track of expenses, appointments, things to do etc. More importantly, one was forced to (and most of us easily did so) remember and easily recall such things. I recently read an article about ‘smart’ refrigerators that may be launched in India.  It will suggest recipes based on the medical profile of a family, inform us if the stored food is fresh and even offer online grocery shopping. Wow!

The dog-eared, turmeric stained cookbooks are now a thing of the past as many of us have jettisoned our cook books as recipies are now easily available on the Internet. I am told certain digital cookbooks are available in an ‘interactive’ version. Our televisions have program reminders which you can select for your favourite TV serials.

So what is it that has changed? Have we changed the way we function because of the easily-available and easy-to-use gadgets? Or are we so engrossed with our jobs and careers that we cannot or do not want to remember and recall such mundane events and tasks and lists? Our Physiology professor always told us to read whatever notes we made in her class within 24 hours of the lecture. “This will make recall easier as and when you do study the same topic later,” was her explanation. I tested her suggestion for a few topics and found her to be absolutely correct.

I am all for adopting new technology and staying with the times. We work out regularly; go for walks, or to the gym to keep our heart, bones, joints and muscles strong and healthy. There are  several products in the market to ensure our skin retains its youthful qualities despite advancing age. But what about the brain? I agree that remembering birthdays and shopping lists may be a huge intellectual challenge. Experts recommend taking up Chess, puzzles etc to prevent Alzheimer’s or other age related memory disorders but not all of us find those activities interesting. This means that besides physical exercise, we need to take up some ‘mental’ exercises as well. This may be in the form of learning a new language, music perhaps…

The aim is to enjoy and ‘work out’ the brain.

There is a lot that we can discuss, but my phone has just beeped a reminder for me to collect clothes from the tailor. I must rush off.

*Photo credit: gailjadehamilton (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)

Archana is a physiotherapist, fitness enthusiast, amateur field botanist and nurtures a few bonsai. Happiest

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  1. Hip Grandma

    Long back a friend told me that soon we would require eyes to identify gadgets and fingers to press the button and make it work. I retorted that one would still need brains to put modern gadgets to good use. So the brain is still a very basic requirement. You were intelligent enough to tune your mobile to remind you of your umpteen schedules and appointments. The gadget would’nt spring up and act on its own!
    That said I must add that i enjoyed your piece very much.

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