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    • What Makes A Good Person?
      I was reminiscing today about the few actually good people I’ve known. Two stand out, my friend Peter, who fought for Hitler; and my old teacher and coach Craig Newell. I had—a bad childhood. My parents were alcoholics, and my father was an angry drunk. Then I went to boarding school, and I was not […]
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Psychology in the News: Cognitive Functions Decline after Age 27

I still remember how freaked out I was when I turned 25. I figured my life was practically over and yet I had accomplished almost nothing. After all, John Keats died at 25 and he had written all that great poetry already! And Percy Bysshe Shelley, who mentored Keats, died at 28. I figured I might as well just hang it up since it was too late to become a great writer (I was a bit depressed at the time, I think). Little did I know that at the relatively youthful age of 25 I was actually at my “cognitive peak” and my brain was about to start deteriorating. At least that’s what

Prof. Timothy Salthouse

Prof. Timothy Salthouse

Professor Timothy Salthouse of the Salthouse Cognitive Aging Lab at the University of Virginia in his recently published longitudinal study of 2,000 adults, ages 18-60. Specifically, he found that “reasoning, spatial visualisation and speed of thought” start to go downhill after age 27. From the BBC:

To test mental agility, the study participants had to solve puzzles, recall words and story details and spot patterns in letters and symbols.The same tests are already used by doctors to spot signs of dementia.

In nine out of 12 tests the average age at which the top performance was achieved was 22.

The first age at which there was any marked decline was at 27 in tests of brain speed, reasoning and visual puzzle-solving ability.

Things like memory stayed intact until the age of 37, on average, while abilities based on accumulated knowledge, such as performance on tests of vocabulary or general information, increased until the age of 60.

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