A depressing new study from a group of neuroscientists at University of Virgina suggests that people begin experiencing age-related cognitive deterioration in their late 20s. Published today, a summary of the study explains:

Some aspects of peoples' cognitive skills – such as the ability to make rapid comparisons, remember unrelated information and detect relationships – peak at about the age of 22, and then begin a slow decline starting around age 27.

"This research suggests that some aspects of age-related cognitive decline begin in healthy, educated adults when they are in their 20s and 30s," said Timothy Salthouse, a University of Virginia professor of psychology and the study's lead investigator . . .

Many of the participants in Salthouse's study were tested several times during the course of years, allowing researchers to detect subtle declines in cognitive ability.

Top performances in some of the tests were accomplished at the age of 22. A notable decline in certain measures of abstract reasoning, brain speed and in puzzle-solving became apparent at 27.

Salthouse found that average memory declines can be detected by about age 37. However, accumulated knowledge skills, such as improvement of vocabulary and general knowledge, actually increase at least until the age of 60.

So you'd better hurry up and get all your good thinking done before you turn 30, at which point you'll have to go to Carousel anyway, so it won't matter what state your brain is in.

via Eurekalert