Cognitive Abilities in Humans May Peak At Age 35, According to Study

cognitive abilities
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A group of researchers has discovered data that suggests that the cognitive abilities of a person seem to reach their peak at the age of 35 and after the age of 45 this ability begins to decline. Their paper is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In it, the researchers researched the skill of a chess player over a period of 125 years.

Previous research has already revealed that cognitive abilities for many people do decline after a mid-life period of their life is crossed, after that point is crossed their abilities continue to decline for the remaining years of their life. In this new study however researchers have discovered a new and unique way of proving cognitive decline, they do so by measuring and evaluating the skills of chess players that play professionally.

In the research they analyzed the performance of players in as many as 24,000 chess professional tournaments; they analyzed them from the year 1890 to the year 2014. In total, these researchers studied 4,294 players and their chess moves, 20 of such players were actual world champions at the time while the other 4,274 players were opponents of the 20 champions.

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The goal of the research was to follow and study the level of skills harbored by each player over the course of several years in order to understand their level of skill over a period of time. The way they did this was by comparing the moves of each player to a computerized engine built for chess and its optimal moves over the period of their entire career.

From this period of evaluation, they realized that for most players their performance rose with great speed till they grew as old as age 20, after this the notable improvements in their performance began to slow down till it reached a noticeable peak roughly at the age of 35 years.

Most of these subjects were able to keep their best playing abilities stable for as long as 10 years by estimate after that however, after the age of 45 these people began to lose their skills gradually.  Describing the research data, the researchers call the shape of the data to represent a curve that resembled a hump.

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The researchers it is interesting to note also discovered that the performance of players across the group also rose over the course of the previous 125 years, especially more so in younger people. They discovered that the performance of these players increased very sharply during the 1990s mostly because people enthusiastic about chess were gaining access to games built especially for chess players which gave them access to very accomplished opponents, thus forcing them to better their skills.

They also discovered that levels of experience among several players also increased this was thought to happen because in the current age, chess players that play professionally now have access to a lot more matches that can test and better their abilities than what was available a century ago.

This suggests that the cognitive abilities of people do indeed have a peak age and from what was shown in the study of these chess players, that age maybe 35.


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