Brain function peaks at 24, but it's not all downhill
A new study has revealed that a person’s cognitive performance peaks at the age of 24, at which point cognitive motor functioning begins to decline with age.
Most folks believe this decline occurs during middle age around the time they reach 45 years of age, but researchers for the study found that cognitive tasks related to memory and speed actually peak much earlier.
Earlier research on cognitive motor performance has primarily focused on the elderly and generally failed to explore when the deterioration in performance began.
For this study, however, the research team used something more than just simple reaction time tests, with two doctoral students at Simon Fraser University in Canada and their supervisor opting to use a video game to conduct experiments instead.
Using data from a large social science experiment involving the real-time strategy game, StarCraft 2, the research team analyzed and replayed some 870 hours of the game from 3,305 StarCraft 2 players who were between the ages of 16 and 44.
The object of the game is for players to tactically defeat the army of their opponent while successfully managing their own civilization's economy and military growth.
The video game is played in real-time, so paying attention to detail and quick reaction time are both important skills for a successful Starcraft 2 gameplay.
Indeed, each player is constantly making numerous adjustments and decisions as they develop strategies for beating their opponent, involving skills that the researchers said are also required to win a game of chess or to otherwise manage an emergency situation that occurs suddenly and in real-time.
The researchers used a complicated statistical model to reach their findings as it pertained to the behavior and response time of the players.
This model also involved measuring a wide range of variables involved in playing Starcraft 2, including the following: 1) looking-doing latency, which is similar to reaction time; 2) dual-task performance; 3) total reported hours of StarCraft 2 game playing experience; 4) effective use of hotkeys; and 5) effective management of view-screens and maps.