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“With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone.” —Oscar Wilde
“With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone.”
As we grow older our senses start to dim. We don’t hear as well or see as well. But as our motor skills decrease a bit, making it seem like we’re not quite as sharp, does the adage “older, but wiser” hold any truth? Are we actually getting smarter, despite age interfering with our cognitive abilities?
In 2011, research by psychologists from the University of Texas showed that subjects aged 60 to 84 were better at making strategic decisions based on long-term results than those aged 18 to 23. The research, led by Dr. Darrel Worthy, found younger adults only outperformed the older group when immediate rewards were involved. This may be because as we age we increasingly rely on our prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that controls rational thinking and planning. When we are younger we have a higher tendency to use the brain’s reward centre, the ventral striatum.
A 2013 study led by Dr. Ye Li of the University California supports those findings regarding wisdom as well as common sense ideas about age and financial responsibility. Li’s study, based on economic tests comparing individuals aged 60 to 82 with another group of 18 to 29-year-olds, found that although the ability to acquire new information declines with age, life experience and accumulated knowledge make up for that loss with increases in patience and financial acumen.
A 2010 study of North Americans by Igor Grossmann of the University of Waterloo, Canada, demonstrated that elderly subjects were wiser than their young counterparts. Yet, two years later, Grossman extended the study to Japan and found little difference between young and old subjects.
Now imagine a society with wise teenagers…