A recent study published in Psychological Science, by Laura Germine and Joshua Harshorne, looks at the age at which different types of cognitive abilities peak across a person’s lifespan. There’s no single answer. Not surprisingly, older adults are better at tests that involve experience and practice than younger adults.
In brief, the researchers find a lot of age variability depending upon the particular cognitive ability. Some of these abilities peak and may even begin to decline in high school; others don’t peak until early adulthood; and, still others don’t peak until people’s 40s or later. According to the authors, “not only is there no age at which humans are performing at peak on all cognitive tasks, there may not be an age at which humans perform at peak on most cognitive tasks.”
Older adults tend to be better at math, vocabulary, and comprehension. They are also better at judging people’s emotions by looking in their eyes. Younger people do better on memory tests.
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