5 Secrets of the Middle-Aged Mind, by Barbara Strauch
Over the past few years, neuroscientists have upended much of what we thought we knew about our middle-aged brains. Using scanners and studying the results of new, more sophisticated long-term studies that have followed real people as they age, researchers themselves have been amazed by what they’ve found. Here are just a few of the surprising things they’ve recently uncovered:
1. We are smarter than ever in middle age. In most areas, including reasoning, we improve as we age, and peak cognitive performance actually occurs in our 40s through 60s – and not in our 20s, as many had thought. It’s true that some glitches develop: Remembering names gets harder, and brain-processing speed slows down. But for most of what we do in middle age, it turns out that those skills might not matter that much. In areas as diverse as inductive reasoning and vocabulary, our brains continue to develop. What’s more, as we age we get better at getting the "gist” of arguments, making judgments of character, or even finances. And each generation is now smarter than its parents were in middle age.