This might hurt a bit, so weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to rip the bandage off quickly: Cognitive decline begins at the ripe old age of 24, according to a new study (which depressingly includes the phrase "Over the Hill at 24" in the title) out of Simon Fraser University in Canada.
Researchers analyzed the performances of 3,305 international players of the real-time strategy video game StarCraft 2. The players ranged in age from 16 to 44, and only 29 of the players were female.
The sad results of the analysis? "Age-related slowing of within-game, self-initiated response times begins at 24 years of age," write the authors in the study abstract. As an example, they explain that a 39-year-old player "equal in all other respects to a 24 year-old adversary," will likely cost themselves about 30 seconds more than the younger player over the course of a 15-minute gameÃ¢â‚¬”and that's a lot of time considering this particular video game is about speed.
Well, what about the fact that with age comes experience, and with experience comes wisdom? Here's a bit of a silver lining: Experience seemed to allow the players to compensate for these brain changes indirectly, explain the authors. Essentially, they still held their own. Of course, its important to keep in mind that this was just one study that looked at cognitive performance during a video gameÃ¢â‚¬”not to mention only 29 women participatedÃ¢â‚¬”so it doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t necessarily mean that your brain starts shutting off on your 24th birthday.
Here's more good news: Despite this naturally occurring cognitive decline, you have the power to improve your mental sharpness through healthy habits, such as minding what you eat and exercising regularly. To learn more about staying on the ball brain-wiseÃ¢â‚¬”even as you move beyond your mid-20sÃ¢â‚¬”check out these links:
35 Foods That Keep Your Brain Sharp
5 Ways Exercise Impacts Your Brain
The Scent That Improves Your Memory
Brainpower: Sharpen Your Mind