As we progress into the fall and winter of our lives some of our cognitive functions begin to sharpen and some began to decline.

Do you feel your age? Most of us do not, but time catches up to us all at some point.

What we could do in the spring and summer of our lives, we can no longer accomplish as quickly or precisely in our later years. Do not fret, there are some cognitive functions which we possess that become better and make us sharper and smarter than our previous self.

Our ability to think quickly and recall information generally peaks around the age of twenty and slowly begins to decline. Studies from neuroscientists at MIT and a Massachusetts Hospital say that various components of our intelligence peak at random ages, some as late as thirty, and others peak even later than that. How fortunate are we that our brain is working at full potential around the time we start college or vocational schooling.

At any age, you are going to improve in certain things, at other times you will become worse at others. There is, most likely, no particular age at which you peak at most things, much less all of them,” says Joshua Hartshorne, a postdoc in MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.

From study data of nearly 50,000 subjects, raw speed in processing information seems to peak around eighteen or nineteen and then suddenly begins to decline. Short-term memory constantly improves until the age of twenty-five, where it manages to remain consistent, and falls off around the age of thirty-five. Examples include: memory for names or numbers, and registering lots of information quickly.

In a person’s forties or fifties, emotional intelligence, or the ability to evaluate people’s emotional state, seem to peak. Crystallized intelligence (accumulation of facts and knowledge) peaks around the forties. A vocabulary test found that it is peaking in the late sixties or even early seventies, maybe because people of this age have had more intellectual stimulation and education in their life in comparison with young people.

Almost all age groups, from their fifties through seventies are on par with each other when it comes to strategic learning. Older ages are usually more financially conscience than the young.  They’re also generally more vigilant.

Cognitive functions change throughout life, as a result of brain maturation and aging brain cells. Movements and reflexes slow down while hearing and vision begin to weaken. Age hinders attention, especially when it becomes necessary to multitask. When moving from one task to another, the elderly have a harder time paying attention.

Researchers all over the world are constantly making progress in understanding the mechanisms of cognitive health, as well as the factors that influence it and increase the risk of obtaining dementia. Illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease, have been given a high priority due to family devastation and societal costs. Currently, we have made it a quest to find new ways to prevent or slow down Alzheimer’s disease and cousin disorders that cause dementia. Hopefully, soon we will find better ways to reduce this winter life cognitive decline.


  1. Big Think
  2. Mic

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