Learning new things actually strengthens your brain — especially when you believe you can learn new things. It’s a virtuous circle: When you think you’re getting smarter, you study harder, making more nerve-cell connections, which in turn makes you … smarter. This effect shows up consistently among experimental subjects, from seventh graders to college students to businesspeople.
This actually explains a lot for me. I’ve found that the older I get, the more rapidly I assimilate information and my capacity to do so has expanded. It is almost to the point of addiction. Yet I don’t see this happening to the people around me.
The “virtuous circle” seems accurate if you have the propensity… and the access to information. I believe if I didn’t have access to the firehose of factoids pouring out of the web, this effect would be significantly muted.