When Does Intelligence Peak?

Problem

You know that your brain, like any other part of your body, is going to diminish with age, but when?

Reality

Actually, different facets of intelligence peak at different ages.

Method

A study published in Psychological Science tested 21,926 people aged ten to seventy-one who had visited the site Test My Brain (warning, it’s addictive). Participants did vocabulary tests, a test where they encoded strings of numbers into symbols, a working memory test, and an emotion-recognition test where they had to read emotions just by looking at a picture of a person’s eyes.

Results

Intelligence doesn’t peak all at once. The number-to-symbol coding test saw a peak performance from nineteen and twenty year olds, with a steady decline after that. Working memory peaked anywhere from the mid-twenties to mid-thirties, slowly declining after that.

However, the emotion-recognition test saw people improving right up until forty-eight, after which there was a very slow decline. And vocabulary continued climbing as participants got older, never quite peaking.

The Takeaway

Don’t feel so bad about getting older—some of your mental abilities are going to slowly diminish, while others will continue to improve.


Flickr.

 

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