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May 11, 2014

Over the Hill at 24: Persistent Age-Related Decline in Reaction Times... Begins in Early Adulthood

Game-over

On the brighter side, no worries about peaking 'cause most likely you've already been there and done that.

As Christopher Ingraham wrote in the Washington Post, "At age 24, brainpower begins to fizzle out."

Below, the abstract of a paper from Canada's Simon Fraser University published last month in PLOS ONE.

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Over the Hill at 24: Persistent Age-Related Cognitive-Motor Decline in Reaction Times in an Ecologically Valid Video Game Task Begins in Early Adulthood

Typically studies of the effects of aging on cognitive-motor performance emphasize changes in elderly populations. Although some research is directly concerned with when age-related decline actually begins, studies are often based on relatively simple reaction time tasks, making it impossible to gauge the impact of experience in compensating for this decline in a real world task. The present study investigates age-related changes in cognitive motor performance through adolescence and adulthood in a complex real world task, the real-time strategy video game StarCraft 2. In this paper we analyze the influence of age on performance using a dataset of 3,305 players, aged 16-44, collected by Thompson, Blair, Chen & Henrey [1]. Using a piecewise regression analysis, we find that age-related slowing of within-game, self-initiated response times begins at 24 years of age. We find no evidence for the common belief expertise should attenuate domain-specific cognitive decline. Domain-specific response time declines appear to persist regardless of skill level. A second analysis of dual-task performance finds no evidence of a corresponding age-related decline. Finally, an exploratory analyses of other age-related differences suggests that older participants may have been compensating for a loss in response speed through the use of game mechanics that reduce cognitive load.

Journal.pone.0094215.g001

May 11, 2014 at 04:01 AM | Permalink


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