Our Capacity For “Strategic Learning” Grows As We Get Older

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Contrary to conventional wisdom that cognitive function declines beginning in the mid-forties (yikes!), aging does not correlate with deteriorating ability to think for ourselves, reports a new study titled “Healthy Brain, Healthy Decisions: The MetLife Study of Decision-Making Potential.”

Conducted with men and women in their 50s, 60s and 70s by the MetLife Mature Market Institute and the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas, the study one of the first projects to investigate the connection between cognitive health, aging and decision making capacity. Some of the report’s findings:

“The study demonstrates that age alone is not a key factor in predicting the ability to make decisions. Researchers found that those who demonstrated smart decision-making also excelled at strategic learning—the ability to sift more important information from the less important.

Although study participants in all three life stages had about the same strategic learning abilities, the oldest participant group slightly surpassed the rest, implying strategic learning capacity may actually increase with age in normally functioning adults.

Additional findings show that older study participants (those in their 70s) were more conscientious, remained vigilant (i.e., considered their options before making a decision) and avoided being hyper-vigilant (i.e., focused on immediate solutions without considering other outcomes) when compared to the younger group (those in their 50s).” (Read more here.)

I believe “strategic learning”—”ability to sift more important information from the less important”—also goes by the name “wisdom.”

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