Researchers have confirmed what many mature people already know – intelligence actually gets sharper with age.
A study of 4300 US ex-servicemen who were given a battery of intelligence tests when they joined the military at the age of 20 were re-tested again two decades later. The research carried out by the University of Aarhus, Denmark contradicted the most widely held assumption that the human brain is at its most powerful from ages 18 to 26. Instead it found intelligence remains stable and in some areas improves with age, reports The Sunday Times.
One reason for the improvement in verbal skills is practice. Older people have had to solve more social and practical problems than younger people, so they develop complex language skills. This overrides the steady loss of brain cells that technology confirms begins in the late 20s.
The findings not only suggest that many assumptions made by employers and policy makers need to be rethought; but also raises questions about the assumption that reaching adulthood heralded a decline in intelligence. Part of the explanation is that researchers, often young, carried out the same tests to all ages without taking into account educational or cultural differences.