At what point in your life does different mental power peak? Some early tests simply classify everyone over the age of 16 as an “adult.”
Today, researchers have recognized that the brain continues to grow and change in early adulthood, and that aging is associated with significant changes in how the brain functions.
Still, we often think that the adult brain is a relatively stable and unchanging thing, meaning that the various mental abilities in adulthood are only constant, or even declining. Conventional beliefs about intelligence usually suggest that people reach a relatively high peak of mental strength early in life and then go through a long and slow aging process.
There is also a tendency to believe that some mental abilities, such as fluid intelligence, typically peak in early adulthood. On the other hand, it is often believed that crystallized intelligence reaches its peak in late adulthood.
According to some experts, this long-standing dichotomy may be too simplistic. Researchers Joshua Hartshorn and Laura Germain used a large number of online participants to gather information about what the strongest mental abilities are. What they discovered was that there was an astonishing logical relationship to when certain abilities normally peak.
Some mental abilities peak much later in life
According to a study published in the journal Psychological Science, various aspects of fluid intelligence peak at different ages, with some abilities beginning in the early 1940s. They reach their peak age.
“At any given age, you get better in some cases, worse in others, and more stable in others,” explains one of the study’s authors. There may not be an age when you have reached your peak in most cases. ”
Hartshorn had previously noticed that visual short-term memory peaked in the mid-1930s before the decline began. In a 2011 study, Germain found that the ability to recognize faces also improves by the age of 30 and then gradually decreases.
With deeper exploration, the two began searching for archival data from old intelligence experiments. What they discovered was that there seemed to be no single mental peak. Instead, different abilities seemed to peak at very different and sometimes surprising ages. These results inspired most of their research on how mental abilities change with age.
Large online examples provide a unique look at mental power
The latest study was able to use a large online sample of participants using gameswithwords.org and testmybrain.org. Using this method, the researchers were able to collect data from approximately 50,000 people over a wide range of ages. Four different types of cognitive tasks were used, as well as a task that assesses the ability to recognize other people’s emotional states. Previous research by Hartshorn and Germain has shown that these tasks measure mental abilities that change with age.
The results showed what researchers call “significant heterogeneity at the peak of cognitive abilities.”
When does mental power reach its peak?
Among the key findings of the latest study and previous research are:
18-19: Information processing speed peaks, and immediately begins to decrease.
25: Short-term memory improves until about age 25. And it remains relatively constant until it starts to decline around the age of 35.
30: Memory for recognizing faces reaches its peak and then gradually begins to decrease.
35: Your short-term memory starts to weaken and decrease.
40s to 50s: Emotional perception peaks in mid-adulthood.
1960s: Vocabulary skills continue to grow.
60s and 70s: Crystallized intelligence, or accumulated knowledge and facts about the world, peaks late in life.
Although the conclusion that crystallized intelligence reaches its peak late in life is consistent with previous findings,
this study shows that this peak occurs much later than previously thought.
What can explain this late peak of mental abilities?
Researchers believe that their results may be due to the fact that people today have more education,
more access to information and more mental occupations than previous generations of adults.
The results suggest that although older brains may be slower, they appear to be even more accurate, and have more knowledge and ability to assess the moods and moods of others. Researchers continue their online research by introducing more cognitive tasks as well as tests to measure language skills, executive function, and social and emotional intelligence. They also agree that more research is need to determine exactly why mental strength peaks at different ages.
“We examined the existing theories and shows that they were all wrong,” says Hartson. Now the question is: which one is correct? To reach this answer, we need to do more studies and gather a lot of information. ”