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SFU Study: Over the hill now starts at age 24

An aerial view of Simon Fraser University
An aerial view of Simon Fraser University's Burnaby mountain campus.
— image credit: Wikimedia Commons (author Soggybread)

Over the hill has always meant, 'You're turning 40.' Just ask a birthday card.

But now, Simon Fraser University is saying you actually start aging and trending when you turn 24, in a new study released last Friday. The study says people reach their peak – in terms of their cognitive motor performance – before they're 25 years old.

"After around 24 years of age, players show slowing in a measure of cognitive speed that is known to be important for performance," says SFU psychology doctoral student Joe Thompson, the lead author of the study. "This cognitive performance decline is present even at higher levels of skill."

But wisdom kicks in, the study's researchers say, which is a silver living for its older (over 24) subjects who compensate for slower cognitive motor capacities with focus and experience.

"Older players, though slower, seem to compensate by employing simpler strategies and using the game's interface more efficiently than younger players, enabling them to retain their skill, despite cognitive motor-speed loss," says Thompson.

"Our cognitive-motor capacities are not stable across our adulthood, but are constantly in flux, and that our day-to-day performance is a result of the constant interplay between change and adaptation."

The study refrains from making any conclusions about technological changes in the 21st century, and it doesn't clarify whether an "increasingly distracting computerized world" caters to the under- or over-24 demographic.

It does say, however, that a digitized world provides more big data for future pieces of analysis, similar to this one.

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