Sure, you may be younger, better looking, and able to run faster, but there is growing evidence that us old fogies can outthink you. (No doubt these new studies were conducted by, analyzed by, and reported on by someone in the over forty crowd who stands to gain– or at least feel a little better about themselves– because of the results.
According to Barbara Strauch, deputy science editor and health and medical science editor at The New York Times and author of The Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind, there are some tangible benefits of all those years we’ve survived.
According to Strauch, “Results of long-term studies show that we actually grow smarter in key areas in middle age which, with longer life spans, now stretches from our mid 40s to our mid to late 60s.”
“In areas as diverse as vocabulary and inductive reasoning, our brains function better than they did in our 20s. As we age, we more easily get the “gist” of arguments. Even our judgment of others improves.”
And this is vitally important, especially in the increasing complex environments in which we work. Turns out that we’ve trained our brains to overcome the natural decline that comes in some cognitive areas with aging.
“It’s true that by midlife our brains can show some fraying,” she says. “Brain processing speed slows down. Faced with new information, we often cannot master it as quickly as our younger peers. And there’s little question that our short-term memories suffer. It’s easy to panic when you find you can’t remember the name of that person you know in the elevator, or even the movie you saw last week.”
“But it turns out that such skills don’t really matter that much. By midlife our brains have developed a whole host of talents that are, in the end, just as well suited to navigating the modern, complex workplace. As we age, we get better at seeing the possible. Younger brains, predictably, are set up to focus on the negative and potential trouble. Older brains, studies show, often reach solutions faster, in part, because they focus on what can be done.”