Research reveals: People get much smarter as they age

Research reveals: People get much smarter as they age

They say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks – and there’s a general consensus that people in their twenties are a bit sharper than their older peers.

But is that really true, or is it just something we’ve heard somewhere and then repeated?

It makes sense that as you grow older, you also get more experienced and intelligent. A few years ago, researchers made a revolutionary discovery that supports this thesis.

As you approach the autumn of life, you tend to get a bit more scatterbrained. Some older people need help doing things that used to be child’s play for them, and it’s no longer that easy to follow long arguments or discussions.

But does that really mean that you’re less intelligent? The answer is no, according to research by psychologist Lars Larsen at Danish Aarhus University. The study has been published in the academic journal Intelligence.


Larsen’s research looked at 4,300 US servicemen who had undergone intelligence tests when they signed up aged around 20, and again 20 years later.

Overrides loss of brain cells

After having studied the 40 year old veterans and analyzed the results, Larsen concluded that mathematical skills among the servicemen appeared to remain unchanged, rather than reducing with age. Not only that, but their verbal skills actually improved considerably.

Aarhus University. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Apparently, these changes are so significant that the mental improvement overrides the loss of brain cells that comes with aging.

“Most of all, verbal ability appears to keep increasing over time,” the researcher and psychologist tells the Daily Mail.


They say, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” – but I think it’s time to retire this saying. And in any case, I think decency and being a good person is way more important than intelligence.

I think we could all do more to respect our elders. The golden rule really holds true here: treat others as you’d like to be treated. Because before you know it, you’ll be that old person yourself!

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