Old brains may be slow, but still smart

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A few years ago, Michael Ramscar, a linguistics researcher at the University of Tübingen in Germany, came across a paper saying that cognitive decline starts as early as age 45. He was 45 himself and felt he hadn’t yet peaked. He remembers thinking: “That doesn’t make sense to me; 99 percent of the people I look up to intellectually, who keep me on my mettle, are older than I am.”

Many memory tests might ask a 20-year-old and a 70-year-old to memorize a list of items, then recall them. The tests don’t address the size and content of each subject’s existing memory.

His research, published in the January 2014 issue of Topics in Cognitive Science, argues that studies on memory ask the wrong questions. It could be that older, wiser heads are so chock full of knowledge that it simply takes longer to retrieve the right bits.

Read the full, original article: An Aging Brain Is Still Pretty Smart

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