Learn a New Skill, Embrace the Noise, and ... try MDMA? Wait - What?

First up, learn something new about the impact on learning to our cognitive capabilities as we age - plus, 6 tips on learning from infants. Then, embrace the annoyances of life by taking off your headphones. Plus, modern life is making us feel more isolated - how do we start rebuilding our ability to truly connect?

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Welcome to the June 18 edition of The Digest.

It’s true that it’s more challenging for adults to learn a new skill, but it’s not impossible.

And it shouldn’t stop you.A new study published by Aging & Mental Health investigated whether learning multiple new real-world skills simultaneously would lead to long-term gains in cognitive abilities, like working memory, cognitive control, and episodic memory. They found that multi-skilled learning (that is, learning 3 skills at once) significantly improved, sustained cognitive abilities in older adults. In the same vein, check out these 6 secrets that infants instinctively know, but we seem to forget as we age. Link.

If you're like me, you go everywhere with a pair of headphones in your ears.

On the odd occasion that I go without, I’m uncomfortable in the ‘silence’ of my surroundings. There’s a reason for that, as author Lauren Larson explains. She’d developed her own sound cocoon, complete with baby white sounds machines, ear plugs, and noice-cancelling headphones during the pandemic but kept it after life went back to (relative) normalcy.

Larson writes: “But though my devices had been effectively masking noise, they hadn’t made me any better equipped to stay calm and focused when noises intruded. Because these tools are so effective, it’s easy to treat them as panaceas rather than spot treatments….Humans have long sought to shield themselves from their environments rather than strengthen themselves to absorb potential threats...Once we start to feel like it’s possible to live without something bad, we feel that we must. But both germs and annoyances are ubiquitous. Learning to live with them bolsters us for times when our defenses fail.”

If you’re in need of a little introspection and a list of helpful coping mechanisms for the things that annoy you - not to mention a few laughs - I guarantee this article will deal you both.

MDMA won’t take ice cream scoops out of your brain, just your social anxiety.

As a species, humans have survived through cooperation and community. But as our habitats have turned from natural to concrete jungles, our social genes are presenting a catch: loneliness, and the depression and anxiety that can go along with those feelings of isolation. While the Section I drug won’t fix modern life and all its quirks, there is mounting evidence - from both scientific studies and real life anecdotes - that it may provide the opportunity to learn and practice how to be social, and ultimately begin to feel connected during sober life. And that connection is key to our mental health, writes author Rachel Nuwer. Check out her own experience with MDMA during the COVID-19 lockdown. Link.