The Old Are Wise

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There probably isn’t a single person who isn’t familiar about the saying that “the old are wise.” I suppose you’re now thinking of old grandpa with his scary stories, his life lessons, and his occasional banter. Yes, they do slow down with age, however, I do remember a certain time when my grandpa beat me in Chess with just 4 moves! A few years later, I realize that it’s a trick move, and that I was duped!

A new study has come to light, though, about the reason why the elderly have reduced brain function – and this time, it isn’t age! According to the study by the researchers of the University of Tuebingen, Germany, experience is the reason why old people slow down. They claim that it’s the enormous amount of information that they have to process that bogs down their processing rate.

They state that this phenomenon, as they call it, is often confused with cognitive decline when that is not necessarily true.

In their experiment, the researchers programmed a set of supercomputers to think just like humans. Every day, these computers processed some new information, while at the same time, “reading” some information as well. Some of the information would be committed to memory. The computers were then tested on their cognitive abilities, in tests much similar to those conducted on humans.

It was found that when the computers had to go through a set amount of data, they would show similar cognitive abilities to that of a person in his 20’s. Recall was quite speedy. On the other hand, when computers had to process an unlimited amount of data, similar to a lifetime of experience, the computers slowed down similar to match the cognitive abilities of elderly folk.

These researchers concluded that this is evidence that our elders are slower to think and react, not because of “cognitive decline,” but rather, because of the need to sort through a vast number of experiences and memories in the brain at that age. Society needs to rethink what is really implied by an aging mind, and that these false assumptions really handicap the working force in today’s society. In the US, 20% of our population consists of old folk. Further research must be conducted, and hopefully, people might think again and reconsider whether these people should really be out of a job or not.