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Does marriage make you smarter?

I dedicated a recent book (The Memory Advantage) to my wife, Kay, writing: “I knew when I met her that she would be unforgettable.” One of the reasons Kay made such an impact on me is that she is devoted to the pursuit of knowledge — about everything from movie blockbusters and interior design to 18th-century epic poetry and primitive art.

Each day, Kay makes a point of learning new information and passing much of it on to me in the evening. For example, she recently read a book called The Intellectual Devotional (published by Rodale, which also publishes Prevention), from which we both learned the origin of John Milton’s epic poem “Paradise Lost,” the history of the Lascaux cave paintings in France, and more. I, too, share with Kay much of what I learn every day, and after years of doing this, we’ve become each other’s best teacher.

From my perspective as a neuroscientist, this is ironic because the changes that occur in the brain during the early stages of love are not conducive to intellectual pursuits. The feeling of euphoria, the sometimes obsessive desire to be with your beloved … all make concentration on anything else almost impossible.

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