What's the Latest Development?

While the raw computational power of the brain declines with age, new studies have found that intelligence increases with maturity thanks to lessons learned through experience. In the current issue of Psychological Science, "researchers report that older people (over 65) showed less variability in their cognitive performance across 100 days of testing than did younger people aged 20 to 31." Florian Schmiedek of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Germany suggests this consistency is due to learned strategies for problem solving, such as having a stable mood, high motivation, and balanced routine.

What's the Big Idea?

Neurological research shows that wisdom—the principle advantage held by more mature individuals—may have direct correlations in the brain's biology. As we age, the brain's two hemispheres become more synchronous in a pattern known as bilateralization. People skills also account for a large portion of intelligence, and according to research published in the Journal of Gerontology, older adults are especially good at solving such interpersonal dilemmas—often by choosing a path that skirted direct conflict. "As we get older...we get better at sizing up people, at understanding how relationships work."

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