The older you get the smarter you become!


Psychologists had always assumed the human brain was at its most powerful between the ages of 18 and 26. They had strong prima facie reason for the assumption because even modern medical scanning techniques have confirmed there is a slow but steady loss of brain cells beginning in the late 20's.

New evidence, however, seems to show that contrary to the long-held notion that brain power peaks at youth, in certain areas it actually increases with age. Researchers at the university of Aarhus in Denmark, who retested 4,300 US ex-servicemen two decades after they had been previously tested at the age of 20, were amazed at the results. They found that not only did the candidates ' mathematical ability remain constant but their verbal skills continued to increase. Apparently the brain has the capacity to override the effects of its cell-atrophy in complex ways. Older people who have had to solve far more social and practical problems than younger ones develop increasing dexterity to describe their world and cope with it. sometimes, in fact, it's just a question of practise.

In any case, the groundbreaking findings could mean that many preconceptions about ageing held by employers, policy-makers, educationists and insurance companies - among others - need to be revised now. Why, for instance, should an age of retirement be fixed - especially for people employed in areas of work which are not labour-intensive and who don't suffer from degenerative impairment? For if there really is no evidence of a slow and inevitable decline in intellectual ability then superannuation becomes superfluous.

Besides, if experience actually leads to an increase in the IQ then it could be argued that Japan, which has one of the highest ratios of people over 60, may be losing its edge because it doesn't consider senior citizens to be part of the country's constructive workforce any longer. It's a valuable lesson to be learnt by personnel of human resources departments who appear to believe anyone over 35 has presenile dementia and is, therefore, unemployable.

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