This is Your Brain On Awesome Thoughts on the world from a student of the mind


An aging brain is not a poorer brain!

Continuing along with the last post's topic of aging and death and all sorts of other uplifting things, I thought I'd throw out a link to an interesting article on the middle-aged brain and what wonderful things it has to offer the world.

While getting older does necessarily entail the loss of certain kinds of functions, it may also lead to an increased ability to perform other tasks better.

Researchers have found that one of the first aspects of cognition to take a hit, and one of the strongest in young people, is "fluid intelligence," an aspect of your cognition that lets you deal with new information more quickly, adapt to new situations, and work out intense logical conundrums.

However, that still leaves a significant chunk of your intelligence intact, researchers say.  Working alongside your fluid intelligence is "crystallized" intelligence - a database of knowledge, heuristics, and wisdom that has been built up over the many years of your middle-aged life!

Studies have shown that this kind of knowledge is significantly stronger middle-late aged adults compared with younger folks - likely due to the fact that they've built up more experience over the years than their more flexible progeny.  Whether this is ultimately for the better is probably dependent on your life situation, but in general older people can perform all kinds of tasks more efficiently than young adults.

What causes this disparity between types of intelligence?  Researchers aren't sure, but some say that it has to do with attentional abilities in general.  Young adults tend to be better at performing tasks that require sustained attention, suggesting that their brains are more well-suited to keep from straying from the task at hand.  Because older adults have more difficulty focusing on one particular thing, it makes it more difficult for them to encode information for further retrieval.

Regardless, it's important to remember that, while certain cognitive abilities decline as you age, this doesn't necessarily mean that you will find yourself at a disadvantage to all the youngsters vying for your job.  You've got crystallized intelligence - and in this arena, time is on your side!

via The Star

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