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Steady does it – at least up to 60

A very interesting piece of research reveals that the long-held view that mental processing slows progressively from the age of 20 is probably wrong – it is slower movement and caution which explain earlier conclusions. The twist in the tail is that cautious older people make fewer errors than speedy youngsters. Brains do not slow down until after age of 60, study finds | Ageing | The Guardian

The research draws on data from Harvard’s Project Implicit. Dr Misha von Krause and a team from Heidelberg analysed data from 1,185, 882 aged between 10 and 80 who had contributed to the study. The time for individuals to react to questions does fall gradually from aged 20 onwards but the processing time within the brain is not the limiting factor – this stays almost constant until 60 years – but brain decisions are not turned into action so quickly as we get older – muscle movements are slower and older people are more cautious – debating the pros and cons of a decision before taking action. Thus we make fewer mistakes compared with younger people who do not hesitate. Mental speed is high until age 60 as revealed by analysis of over a million participants | Nature Human Behaviour

Project Implicit

Fascinating stuff and great support for the value of mature workers and students – and the older generation. The time and value of wisdom is not past. This is in keeping with common experience.