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When Does Intelligence Peak?

Fluid vs. Crystallized intelligence

In the intelligence field, there is a distinction between:

  •  "fluid" intelligence (indexed by tests of abstract reasoning and pattern detection);
  •  "crystallized" intelligence (indexed by measures of vocabulary and general knowledge).

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When Does Intelligence Peak?

When Does Intelligence Peak?

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/when-does-intelligence-peak/

blogs.scientificamerican.com

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Key Ideas

The peak of our cognitive functions

There's no age at which humans are performing at peak on all cognitive tasks - our various cognitive functions peak at different times and past a certain age it might make more sense to view adult intelligence not through the lens of youthful general processing speed and reasoning, but through the lens of expertise, wisdom, and purpose.

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Learning Slows Down with Age
Learning Slows Down with Age

Most aspects of mental processing slow down as we age. While we continue to accumulate knowledge of the world at a slower rate, we gain more experience that increases our wisdom.

Our minds tend to grow worse

Researchers disagree in their hypotheses about how our minds tend to get worse with age. What can be observed is the following:

  • Older individuals do struggle more with Stroop tasks, where an automatic habit needs to be overridden by instructions.
  • Older individuals have a harder time with multitasking.
  • Older people find it difficult to bind information that occurs in a combined context. It impacts their ability to remember life events.

However, older people seem to be better at emotional regulation.

Cognitive Reserve

Some people seem to age mostly with minds intact and others notice dramatic slowdowns. The brain appears to have a lot of redundancy built-in - known as cognitive reserve.

Education seems to have a protective effect on aging, possibly because education contributes to cognitive reserve.

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“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.”

Abraham Lincoln
Powerful Persistence

Abraham Lincoln is most celebrated for his role in keeping the nation together during the Civil War and signing the Emancipation Proclamation, which helped to end slavery in the United States.

His leadership exemplified determination and is a reminder that great leaders must remain persistent, even when others do not believe in their vision.

“In order to cultivate a set of leaders with legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry, it is necessary that the path to leadership be visibly open to talented and qualified individuals of every r...

“In order to cultivate a set of leaders with legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry, it is necessary that the path to leadership be visibly open to talented and qualified individuals of every race and ethnicity.”

Sandra Day O’Connor

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Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous
  • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
  • Real dangers. Ma...
You Cannot Avoid Making Mistakes

Mistakes are really a demand for order and continuity. But the world and everything in it is constantly changing. 

It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. 

Benefits of Making Mistakes
  • Mistakes point us to something we did not know
  • Help us see what matters and what does not
  • Inform us more about our values
  • Teach us more about others
  • Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work
  • Remind us of our humanity
  • Spur us to want to better work which helps us all
  • Promote compassion for ourselves and others
  • Help us to pace ourselves better
  • Invite us to better choices
  • Can suggest new options we had not considered
  • Prompt us to learn more about ourselves
  • Make us more humble
  • Expose our true feelings
  • Point us in a more creative direction
  • Can hasten change
  • Reveal our blind spots

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