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Mental speed doesn’t slow before 60, study shows

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rains don’t slow down until your 60s, a new study showed.

Researchers said their study challenged the previously believed notion that the age of mental growth slowed down in your mid-20s.

Response times have been the traditional method of analysis to check the speed of processing information while making decisions.

A German study at Heidelberg University, involving 1.2 million people from ages 10 to 80 years old, came to this conclusion through a series of tests which were initially intended to measure unconscious racial bias.

“However, response times are not pure measures of mental speed but instead represent the sum of multiple processes,” said researchers who published their findings in the Nature Human Behaviour journal.

Participants of the study were asked to categorise terms, such as labelling faces as white or black, organising terms like “joy” and “agony” into positive or negative groups by choosing between two buttons.

Mischa von Krause and other team members found slower reaction times often found in one’s 40s and 50s was actually due to more careful consideration – not declining ability.

He said: “Until older adulthood, the speed of information processing in the task we studied barely changes.

“People become more cautious in their decisions with increasing age – they try to avoid mistakes. At the same time, the motor processes – the pressing of the response keys in an experiment – slow down with increasing age.”

These findings dismiss the idea that older adults are slower thinkers which can impact work life.

Due to natural ageing and shrinking of the brain, however, researchers said mental speed does slow significantly after age 80.

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