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Over the hill at 24?

Study suggests cognitive motor skills begin to decline at 24 years of age

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Thursday, April 17, 2014, 4:00 PM -

Your brain might be slowing down a bit sooner than you think.

A new study by scientists at British Columbia's Simon Fraser University suggests that people's cognitive motor skills -- i.e., the ability to process thoughts and then react to them -- peak at the age of 24 and not after retirement as previously thought.

To figure this out, researchers gathered data from a group of more than 3,000 participants aged 16 to 44 as they played "Starcraft 2", a fast-moving computer war game.

The researchers looked at the gamers' performance data to determine how they interacted with each other and how quickly they responded to different scenarios. It was revealed that players had a decrease or slow-down in a measure of cognitive speed that is known to be important for performance beginning around 24 years of age.

But it's not all bad news.

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The same study suggests that as some people's performance slows, they make up for it in other ways.

Instead of speed, they became more cunning and crafty, replacing speed with better strategy.


A report published in the March issue of Psychology and Aging says that 70 years old is a "grumpy point" for the male population, with many men's "perception of happiness" taking a nosedive at this age.

But there's a silver lining to this study as well.

"At least one study found that older men in nursing homes who were grumpy actually lived a little longer," says lead author Carolyn Aldwyn

"The thought is that these individuals could voice their unhappiness with their current situation and perhaps get more attention and perhaps better service than individuals who suffered quietly."

With files from Cheryl Santa Maria

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