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Brains Work Best At Age of 39

ScuttleMonkey posted about 6 years ago | from the sounds-like-a-good-last-day-to-me dept.

Medicine 267

Scientists at the University of California Los Angeles are reporting that while some people may think "life begins at 40," all it seems to do is slow down. According to recent research, at age 39 our brain reaches its peak speed, and it's all downhill after that. "The loss of a fatty skin that coats the nerve cells, called neurons, during middle age causes the slowdown, experts say. The coating acts as insulation, similar to the plastic covering on an electrical cable, and allows for fast bursts of signals around the body and brain. When the sheath deteriorates, signals passing along the neurons in the brain slow down. This means reaction times in the body are slower too."

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Not a First Post (4, Funny)

Farmer Tim (530755) | about 6 years ago | (#25530255)

I'm getting old...

FRAUD ALERT -- Slashdot pseudo-science (5, Interesting)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | about 6 years ago | (#25530885)

Fraud Alert: The results are wildly over-interpreted. The conclusions are guessing, not science.

Maybe older people don't take finger-tapping seriously. Maybe younger people are far more likely to have played computer games.

I met a man who was 55 who told me that he didn't get a good score on a computer pinball game he had just begun playing because he was old. Two weeks later, when I saw him again, he said his score had tripled.

Quote from the article linked by Slashdot: "Significantly, the research suggests that the myelin breakdown process should also reduce all other brain functions for which performance speed is dependent on higher AP frequencies, including memory; ..."

That's wild over-interpretation. There is no "should" in science. There is only theory, and it is necessary to emphasize that theories are only that, theories.

Re:FRAUD ALERT -- Slashdot pseudo-science (1, Flamebait)

Ostracus (1354233) | about 6 years ago | (#25530955)

"That's wild over-interpretation. There is no "should" in science. There is only theory, and it is necessary to emphasize that theories are only that, theories."

So's evolution. Oh wait!

Re:FRAUD ALERT -- Slashdot pseudo-science (3, Funny)

Farmer Tim (530755) | about 6 years ago | (#25531013)

So in a nutshell you're saying I'm not too old and slow to get a first post.

Funny. (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | about 6 years ago | (#25531263)

LOL. Yes, I'm saying that.

Read what Sockatume had to say below: Bad reporting, more like [slashdot.org] .

Anyone who practices finger-tapping will become a faster finger-tapper. Probably the results of the study only show that younger people are more likely to have played computer games. Practicing motor coordination improves response times.

In my grandparent post I meant to say that "should" indicates a theory, not that nothing is known with more sureness than theory.

Re:FRAUD ALERT -- Slashdot pseudo-science (2, Funny)

pseudorand (603231) | about 6 years ago | (#25531395)

Maybe so, but I'm still planning on increasing my intake of bacon, fried chicken and greasy burgers, you know, just in case.

Re:Not a First Post (1)

theaveng (1243528) | about 6 years ago | (#25531051)

I'm feeling old too, but yet worn out. This means if I want to back to college, I should do it now at age 37, while my brain is near peak capacity, rather than wait until I'm a doddering 40-something. ;-)

- posted with LYNX, a Commodore 64 web browser (using 2 kbit/s modem)

Re:Not a First Post (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | about 6 years ago | (#25531221)

Definitely don't wait, because after 40 your...whatchamacallit...doesn't...that thing...um, lunchtime?

...and they said.... (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | about 6 years ago | (#25530299)

...that life was over after 30. Yay for the thirty-somethings!

Re:...and they said.... (5, Interesting)

theaveng (1243528) | about 6 years ago | (#25530743)

There is No "one" point where the body stops working. Different systems age at different rates:

- the reproductive system peaks somewhere around age 16 or 17 (lowest risk of birth defects)
- the *desire* for sex peaks just prior to menopause for women (circa age 35) and apparently never ends for men ;-)
- flexibility (ala gymanasts and skaters) peaks at 15 and ends around 25
- reaction time peaks at 30
- and now it's revealed that the human brain peaks just prior to 40 - after which the neurons' tendrils start falling apart (like an old rubber hose).

Re:...and they said.... (0, Troll)

sexconker (1179573) | about 6 years ago | (#25531071)

Gymanasts?
Like, men with vaginas?

Re:...and they said.... (2, Insightful)

KovaaK (1347019) | about 6 years ago | (#25531185)

- reaction time peaks at 30

That's cool to know. In online FPS games, people always whine about the reflexes of the 12-17 year olds and so on, but I've always felt like it was because older gamers just didn't devote the time into games to get as good. Now that the crowd of mid-20 gamers has had years of experience in these games, they are still the majority at the top level of competition. (There are exceptions, but I'm just pointing out that once you are past 17, that doesn't mean you won't be able to compete with younger gamers anymore on the grounds of reflexes.)

Dick works best... (5, Funny)

bloodninja (1291306) | about 6 years ago | (#25530301)

...at age 18.

I can't wait for the spam that will advertise me an 18 year old dick, a 39 year old brain, and a 65 year old bank account.

Re:Dick works best... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25530441)

...at age 18.

I can't wait for the spam that will advertise me an 18 year old dick, a 39 year old brain, and a 65 year old bank account.

I was going to say the same thing ... only I was going to say "Unfortunately the penis is optimally functional at age 18 ... if only we could somehow align these two."

Re:Dick works best... (4, Funny)

bloodninja (1291306) | about 6 years ago | (#25530541)

"Unfortunately the penis is optimally functional at age 18 ... if only we could somehow align these two."

Obviously not, we are capable of thinking with one and not with the other at any given moment!

Re:Dick works best... (4, Funny)

Yetihehe (971185) | about 6 years ago | (#25530691)

Obviously not, we are capable of thinking with one and not with the other at any given moment!

This explains why slashdoters are so smart.

Re:Dick works best... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25530757)

Slashdotters are ..smart? /. no brain today.

Re:Dick works best... (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 6 years ago | (#25531091)

no brain today.

Was it good for you?

Relates to neurological disease as well (5, Interesting)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | about 6 years ago | (#25530323)

Interestingly, AFAIK, myelin breakdown due to a malfunctioning immune system is very much related to diseases like MS and ALS, among others.

Which begs the question, if we could fix those disorders including restoring the myelin around the nerve fibers, could we keep people's brains working better for longer?

Re:Relates to neurological disease as well (4, Interesting)

yttrstein (891553) | about 6 years ago | (#25530603)

We can, and the substances that have been shown to be effective on this have been around for quite a while, the most modern ones being things like phenylpiracetam and pramiracetam, whos alkaloids are a suitable replacement in myelin sheath generation in aging human brains.

I expect this to suddenly be "news" in about five years.

Re:Relates to neurological disease as well (2, Interesting)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | about 6 years ago | (#25531419)

Can these substances be used to help restore lost motor function due to the immune system attacking the myelin sheath of motor neurons? If so it should basically fix things like ALS, MS, MMN... I assume not, as those diseases are (to the extent of my knowledge) treated with totally different approaches?

Re:Relates to neurological disease as well (5, Interesting)

yttrstein (891553) | about 6 years ago | (#25531511)

First, I have to say, take the following with a grain of salt, since it's anecdotal:

Most of the research on the 'racetam family of bioactives has been done in Russia, and because of this there are both mistrusts and language barriers to overcome, but in doing so I discovered some pretty massively interesting studies all about specifically myelin sheath issues. So, since these substances are freely available in the US without any kind of prescription (unlike Russia, interestingly), I purchased a few and fed them to my mother, who is in the last couple of stages of post polio syndrome, which among other things (to put it in a nutshell) severely inhibits myelin effectiveness in nerve sheath maintenance. When she started the regimen a year ago, she couldn't walk at all and had great difficulty grasping things with her left hand, and was also in tremdous pain.

Just a week ago she and I walked about six blocks to a restaurant, and then back. She can grasp things in her left hand fairly well at this point, and is in very little pain.

I don't know myelin "helping" nootropics are the holy grail of neurological disorders, but they appear to have helped at least one person tremendously.

Re:Relates to neurological disease as well (4, Insightful)

Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) | about 6 years ago | (#25530667)

could we keep people's brains working better for longer?

To be honest, given that we have no real definition of what "intelligence" is, to say that people get less intelligent in some way once they get past 40 is reaching a bit. Granted there is a physical effect being observed, but people have lost significant hunks of their brains with little detrimental effect.

Re:Relates to neurological disease as well (1)

theaveng (1243528) | about 6 years ago | (#25530775)

Obviously we need to program our nanites to do myelin deposition in the nerve cells. And while they're there, they can carry off any amyloid plaques to the intestine for disposal.

Re:Relates to neurological disease as well (1, Insightful)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | about 6 years ago | (#25530845)

You mean raises the question.

Re:Relates to neurological disease as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25530919)

No, he means it begs the answer.

Re:Relates to neurological disease as well (2, Informative)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | about 6 years ago | (#25530877)

For those who would ask: Phenylpiracetam [wikipedia.org]

Re:Relates to neurological disease as well (3, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | about 6 years ago | (#25530901)

Interestingly, AFAIK, myelin breakdown due to a malfunctioning immune system is very much related to diseases like MS and ALS, among others.

Which brings up a point - no two people are alike. No two people age the same way. I know guys fifteen years younger than me who look older than I am.

My uncle died of ALS (Lou Gherig's Disease). Most people are dead of this disease before age 65, he didn't even show symptoms until his eighties.

Spme people's brains peak at age 30, some people's brains peak at 50. To say everyone's brains are the same at any given age is stupidly ludicrous.

Re:Relates to neurological disease as well (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about 6 years ago | (#25531075)

That's not what the zombies say. Brains are brains, man.

Re:Relates to neurological disease as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25531015)

Which begs the question, if we could fix those disorders including restoring the myelin around the nerve fibers, could we keep people's brains working better for longer?

that's exactly the argument made by dr. sears and dr. julian bailes.

dr. sears is a phd lipid researcher (formerly employed by boston university and mit) and creator the zone diet, an anti-inflammatory diet designed keep you insulin, glucagon and eicosanoids in a zone to promote peak human performance.

dr. bailes is the chair of WVU's Department of Neurosurgery.

dr. bailes called dr. sears days after randal mccloy, the lone survivor of the sago mining disaster, was put under his care. dr. sears recommended high does epa/dha concentrate (epa reduces inflammation and dha is required for optimal brain health).

dr. sears' efforts, in conjunction with more traditional forms of treatment, led to a recovery called "miraculous" by the medical press.

http://myhealthcafe.blogspot.com/2006/04/miracle-of-fish-oil-randall-mccloy-jr.html [blogspot.com]

Re:Relates to neurological disease as well (1)

Godji (957148) | about 6 years ago | (#25531257)

diseases like MS and ALS

We all know that Microsoft is a disease, but what the hell is ALS?

That Explains... (1)

Scootesti (879866) | about 6 years ago | (#25530325)

All those mid 80s Crown Victorias that come out of nowhere, seemingly as if the old fart driving didn't see you coming... maybe he didn't, but maybe he did and it was too late to move his foot 6 inches to the left...

Midlife crisis (4, Funny)

bloodninja (1291306) | about 6 years ago | (#25530327)

This is probably what leads to a midlife crisis. One day you wake up smarter than you've ever been and go "holy shit, I've been a jackass all these years". Then you go and do something about it.

Re:Midlife crisis (1)

lixee (863589) | about 6 years ago | (#25530625)

And by "do something about it", you mean get a divorce?

Re:Midlife crisis (1)

bloodninja (1291306) | about 6 years ago | (#25530731)

That, or something else mentioned here [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Midlife crisis (1)

hondo77 (324058) | about 6 years ago | (#25531045)

That's the "kids leaving home"-triggered midlife crisis...so I've heard...not that I'm planning anything...for nine years from now...

With three weeks to go until my 39th birthday.... (4, Funny)

pez (54) | about 6 years ago | (#25530329)

...I have to say I expected a little more ;-)

Re:With three weeks to go until my 39th birthday.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25530711)

not only that, but also um, Im kinda pretty sure there not really like um don't know what they talk about. It's all downhill once you turn 30 and, um, you know, stuff. um. anyways, what was I saying? ah bummer.

Lose Weight! (1)

mfh (56) | about 6 years ago | (#25530917)

Think about all the middle aged crisis fools who shed fat without considering the ramifications. They are melting their brains!

My response to this... (1)

whyde (123448) | about 6 years ago | (#25530371)

All I have to say is, "Yeah!" quickly followed by, "Oh, crap!"

Speed of life and life itself are different things (4, Insightful)

tftp (111690) | about 6 years ago | (#25530377)

some people may think "life begins at 40," all it seems to do is slow down

There is no contradiction, IMO. I know people who are so fast they don't have time to live, they are always five minutes late for something. Life begins when you can slow down, relax and think.

Re:Speed of life and life itself are different thi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25530647)

Life begins when you can slow down, relax and think.

It always start that way for me, then I end up either on Slashdot, or masturbating. :-(

Coding too (3, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | about 6 years ago | (#25530925)

Sure the young 'uns can sit up all night and crank out code fast, but quite often the older guys will be relaxing and thinking a bit more and come up with better code.

But that might also be because by age 40 you'd probably have diverted into management if you were no good at coding.

Re:Speed of life and life itself are different thi (1)

Caboosian (1096069) | about 6 years ago | (#25531475)

Life begins when you can slow down, relax and think.

Unfortunately, for many of us, by the time we can slow down and relax, our thinking capability is already sliding. I think that's the paradox they're trying to refer to.

Awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25530393)

Ha ha woo hoo, things are still on the up! Brain that is.......................the rest is sadly flaccid!

Re:Awesome! (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 6 years ago | (#25530957)

Ha ha woo hoo, things are still on the up! Brain that is.......................the rest is sadly flaccid!

Thankfully they now have drugs [wikipedia.org] for that.

speed isn't that important (4, Insightful)

thermian (1267986) | about 6 years ago | (#25530401)

Once, over a period of a week when I was in my twenties, I got repeatedly destroyed at chess by a guy in his eighties. Seriously, I have never been so utterly unable to outthink anyone in my life, and I'm a pretty good chess player.

He started playing chess as a boy, and while he did tend to ramble on a bit, if his mind wasn't as sharp as it used to be, it must have once been able to cut diamonds...

Re:speed isn't that important (1)

lysergic.acid (845423) | about 6 years ago | (#25530569)

did that old man happen to be Magneto [hollywoodjesus.com] ?

Myelin supplement scams are next (2, Informative)

schwit1 (797399) | about 6 years ago | (#25530407)

Just like the Glucosamine Chondroitin scams. I'm seeing them now for pets.

Oh no! (4, Funny)

T.E.D. (34228) | about 6 years ago | (#25530411)

Being 41, I was rather dismayed to see this article. Even more upsetting was the fact that I then proceeded to left click on it, rather than my ususal middle-click to open it in a tab.

Oh no! It's starting already!

Re:Oh no! (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | about 6 years ago | (#25530871)

See if you can guess when I learned that you can middle-click to open a link in a new tab. ;)

Thanks for the tip; that'll save me a fair bit of time and clicking during the day.

Re:Oh no! (2, Funny)

VeNoM0619 (1058216) | about 6 years ago | (#25531141)

Middle-clicking is becoming a new thing(?). You can middle click to open links in new tabs, middle click the tab to close the tab, that's just for web browsing. I have noticed that newer programs support new functions with middle clicking certain areas... I'm still waiting for support for an 8 button mouse though.

Seriously, we have a 100+ key keyboard for the left hand, and 3 whole friggin buttons for my right hand? No wonder I started out life right handed and ended up becoming ambidextrous.

At least we'll be able to look good while clicking (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | about 6 years ago | (#25531509)

I hear there's a great new clothing store for people our age. It's called Forever 41.

Damn (1)

Kazymyr (190114) | about 6 years ago | (#25530423)

I'll be 39 in 2 months, and I feel like I hit the bottom, not the peak.

Re:Damn (2, Insightful)

Pahroza (24427) | about 6 years ago | (#25530607)

More than likely you are now wise enough to know that you don't know everything.

First post! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25530427)

... brought to you by fatty nerve cell coating!

Brain works worst... (1, Insightful)

internerdj (1319281) | about 6 years ago | (#25530435)

Upon contact with an attractive female.

Ahem ... (4, Insightful)

foobsr (693224) | about 6 years ago | (#25530447)

... they base their result on a sample of 72 persons within an age range from 23 to 80.

Science at its best.

CC.

Re:Ahem ... (2, Interesting)

jbeaupre (752124) | about 6 years ago | (#25530615)

It's still science. Weak or strong statistacally, science is body of work based on "Cool! Hey everybody, check this out!" followed either by "Hey, that is cool!" or "Dork, you forgot to carry the one!" Sometimes both.

Re:Ahem ... (3, Insightful)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | about 6 years ago | (#25530693)

It's still _BAD_ science.

Bad reporting, more like (5, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | about 6 years ago | (#25530897)

The fuck it is. It's bad reporting. The actual research is all about how motor response speed correlates extremely well with myelin degradation, and discusses how this backs up the idea that myelin degradation is important in the aging of the brain and the resulting reduced physical ability. Even the press release, entitled "Physical decline caused by slow decay of brain's myelin" only mentions the 39-year figure once, and only in the context of this particular sample group, two-thirds of the way down the web page. 39 is the age at which finger tapping speed and myelin integrity both peak and begin to decline. At no point do the researchers claim that this has anything to do with cognative performance, let alone extrapolate it to say that there's some magic age at which mental function begins to decline.

That story is a creation of the media which have decided to run with "brains work best at age of 39" for no readily appreciable fucking reason. Next time, hacks, save some effort and just put a bunch of words in a hat and make up the story based on those.

Why didn't the others think for themselves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25531115)

Thank you, Sockatume. MOD PARENT UP!!! "That story is a creation of the media..."

Anyone interested in studying brain function should study why the other people who responded to this article couldn't see that.

Re:Ahem ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25530983)

It's not bad science, it's bad reporting. It is the result of a single study. Now that a conclusion has been made based on an initial study, more studies will be necessary to confirm, refute, or refine that conclusion.

Re:Ahem ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25531231)

It's still _BAD_ science.

Other than simply suggesting that the N is too small, can you tell me why it's 'bad science'? In fact, why is the sample size perhaps sufficient or not? Are power calculations constrained by baseline knowledge? I haven't read the article but am always curious about arm-chair research. Other than accidentally being correct what's your justification?

Re:Ahem ... (2, Funny)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | about 6 years ago | (#25530637)

... they base their result on a sample of 72 persons within an age range from 23 to 80.

Science at its best.

CC.

They were the only ones in the hospital at the time.

Re:Ahem ... (1)

internerdj (1319281) | about 6 years ago | (#25530705)

And the ones closest to 39 actually knew they were at the hospital... Meaning those furthest away from 39 didn't know where they were. Hmmm. That actually sounds about right.

Re:Ahem ... (2, Informative)

Thiez (1281866) | about 6 years ago | (#25530729)

Okay, so maybe they are a little wrong and the actual age of brainy awesomeness is some other number between 35-45. That doesn't make the whole study wrong. What is interesting is that the age they found was 39 instead of, say, 23. We shouldn't start publishing their results in schoolbooks all over the world yet, but the results are interesting and invite further research on the subject.

Don't expect EVERY study to involve thousands of people, that would be way too expensive. Instead you check interesting hypotheses with small groups of people and when you find something interesting you repeat the experiment with a larger group.

Science at its best indeed.

Re:Ahem ... (2, Insightful)

hondo77 (324058) | about 6 years ago | (#25530969)

Don't expect EVERY study to involve thousands of people...

Just the good ones.

Re:Ahem ... (4, Funny)

Chapter80 (926879) | about 6 years ago | (#25531341)

... they base their result on a sample of 72 persons within an age range from 23 to 80.

What do you expect? The researcher was in his 40's. He was much better a few years back...

Just the speed of reaction (2, Insightful)

NoNeeeed (157503) | about 6 years ago | (#25530461)

From what I have read, this only appears to apply to the speed of thought, which impacts on our reaction speeds. This would chime with most people's experience of ageing.

What I would be interesting in is whether it actually has a knock-on effect on the quality of cognitive ability. Does thinking faster equal thinking better?

Also, I wonder if the increase in experience is enough to overcome the reduction in reaction speeds. For example a 17 year old may have a great reaction speed, but that doesn't automatically make them a better driver than a 40 year-old with 20+ years of predicting the motion of objects travelling at speed and planning accordingly.

Re:Just the speed of reaction (4, Insightful)

Life2Short (593815) | about 6 years ago | (#25530795)

As a wise man once said to me: "A new broom sweeps like hell, but the old broom knows where the dirt is..."

Re:Just the speed of reaction (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 6 years ago | (#25530881)

Testing the speed of thought based on reaction times reminds me how back in the day they used to test IQ by figuring out how many different colors you could see or frequencies you could hear. The logic being that these things are rooted in the brain and therefore must be a direct measurement of the brains power.

I think a more accurate discription would be that the speed of electrical signals in the brain peaks at 39. We don't even know how that relates to the actual rates of cognition (or even if there is such a thing).

Speed? Psh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25530497)

Speed has little to do with efficiency of the mind believe it or not, otherwise computers would be sapient by now. The proof is in so called "mathematical prodigies" that can solve massive arithmetic problems in astounding time. You may think that their brain operates "fast" but the reality is that there is are an insurmountable quantity of techniques used to achieve this "speed". In the end, there are also subconscious heuristic techniques that the mind develops with practice. Also, "speed" can come from a shortening of distance (similar to the shrinking transistor industry). The mind achieves this by lowering information down the cortical hierarchy. This is the reason that children have to read words letter by letter, and speed reading adults read pages sentence by sentence. So if you keep exercising your mind, there is no peak. Granted this article is about neural circuitry and it will be more difficulty in reaching a higher peak with the biological underpinnings of the mind slowly degrading, but I just wanted to clear up that speedier doesn't always mean faster.

That explains a lot! (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 6 years ago | (#25530519)

The birth rate among people aged 40 and above drops significantly. Might there be a connection between the brain working better and not having children? (And let's leave Sarah Palin out of this one...)

Why is it deteriorating, though (1)

brian0918 (638904) | about 6 years ago | (#25530539)

Why is the myelin deteriorating? Has this deterioration been observed for the last couple centuries, or is it a recent occurrence? Are people known to have had such neural disorders (I'm guessing Alzheimer's is an example) long ago?

Re:Why is it deteriorating, though (1)

pablomme (1270790) | about 6 years ago | (#25531183)

Myelin was discovered in 1854, and I don't think it's been measured in humans for too long. Any study in this direction will be pure statistical noise, and even if there were tons of data it would be biased by the improvement in measuring techniques.

This is similar to the claims that have been made in the past decade that men are becoming less fertile. I don't know where I read this, but it turns out that these claims are based on comparisons between pears and apples: old data refer to total sperm count, while with current technologies you also detect defective sperm and subtract...

Despite the big CITATION NEEDED on what I said, one has to be careful with historical data because chances are they are wildly inaccurate.

College NOW (1)

theaveng (1243528) | about 6 years ago | (#25530561)

So if I want to back to college, I should do it now at age 37, while my brain is near peak capacity, rather than wait until I'm a doddering 40-something. ;-)

- posted with LYNX, a Commodore 64 web browser (using 2 kbit/s modem)

Re:College NOW (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25531153)

I have signatures disabled. Does that mean that you either type or cut and paste the - posted with LYNX, a Commodore 64 web browser (using 2 kbit/s modem) every time? If so, why not just put it in a signature that I can ignore?

What about exercise? (4, Interesting)

rrohbeck (944847) | about 6 years ago | (#25530563)

It is well known that regular intense exercise has a profound impact on aging and brain performance.
I can't take a report serious that doesn't take the effect of exercise into consideration and doesn't even mention it.
So does 39 apply to complete couch potatoes? Average Americans with little exercise? Athletes?

Like wires? (1)

mweather (1089505) | about 6 years ago | (#25530653)

Anyone who has touched an uninsulated wire can attest that it still conducts electricity just as well as with insulation.

Re:Like wires? (1)

PRMan (959735) | about 6 years ago | (#25531461)

I think the idea is that data can move faster across a well-shielded wire and will pick up more interference and thus need to slow down for error correction.

I know this because I am almost 39.

The brain works "best"? (1)

BorgCopyeditor (590345) | about 6 years ago | (#25530673)

Fastest != best. With no software to run, a processor's clock speed is mostly useless.

I'd say something witty about this... (1)

RobertSeattle (1345313) | about 6 years ago | (#25530761)

...But I'm 45.

Fatty skin? (3, Funny)

Comboman (895500) | about 6 years ago | (#25530777)

"The loss of a fatty skin that coats the nerve cells, called neurons, during middle age causes the slowdown, experts say.

Loss of fatty skin? When I hit middle age, that's when I started getting fatty skin.

How Fast Can You Move Your Finger? (1)

BigBlueOx (1201587) | about 6 years ago | (#25530779)

I can add an anecdotal confirmation of this study. 39 does seem to be the peak age for motor response.

I can move my fingers/hand much much faster while looking at a picture of Cheryl Ladd when she was 39 than I can for ... well ... be fair, most anything else.

Im 39 (1)

zeldor (180716) | about 6 years ago | (#25530793)

but I think my brain worked best 10-15 years ago

Not mine. (2, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | about 6 years ago | (#25530827)

Brains Work Best At Age of 39

I was in a bad car wreck at age 24, dropped ten points on my IQ. Lucky for me it was 142 before the wreck.

It seems to have gotten progressively better since then, until a few years ago when it kind of reached a plateau; I don't think I'm as creative as I was a few years ago.

When the sheath deteriorates, signals passing along the neurons in the brain slow down. This means reaction times in the body are slower too.

That doesn't mean you're not as smart, it means your reflexes are slower. You're born as intelligent as you'll ever be; your capacity to learn is at its maximum. However, you are also as ignorant as you'll ever be, as you know absolutely nothing whatever.

A middle aged professor I once knew was fond of telling his students "I've forgotten more than you've ever learned".

Re:Not mine. (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | about 6 years ago | (#25531315)

If you were on cardiac bypass or were cooled and then rewarmed too quickly, you might be suffering from Pump Head [about.com] .

the comments here are negative (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 6 years ago | (#25530855)

indicating the average age of the slashdotter reading this story is over 39

Fastest != Best (3, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 6 years ago | (#25531095)

Just because older brains don't necessarily work as fast as younger ones doesn't mean they don't work better. Plenty of better thinking is slower than the fastest stuff, like jumping to conclusions. And the older brains have lots more information and habits that can be more powerful than the newer ones. This is known to humans as "wisdom".

Besides, just getting to the wrong answer faster is not "better".

Just some more reasons people say "age and guile will beat youth and talent any day". Even if younger people just zip around without realizing it.

Re:Fastest != Best (1)

phorm (591458) | about 6 years ago | (#25531455)

Slower CPU to process it, but lots of useful information in the old grey-matter database? :-)

lost in translation (1)

trb (8509) | about 6 years ago | (#25531123)

The quote in the lead paragraph for this article was not in the referenced article. I checked, because the first sentence was so poorly constructed, with a textbook-worthy example of a dangling modifier:

The loss of a fatty skin that coats the nerve cells, called neurons, during middle age causes the slowdown, experts say.

If the article is about the loss of the fatty sheath, why mention what nerve cells are called?

The base UCLA article explains that the fatty sheath (myelin) is around nerve fibers (axons) not nerve cells (neurons). The bad quote was copied from telegraph.co.uk, and I found it ironic in an article about loss of mental acuity.

My wild guess is that the British writer saw that the lead paragraph in the UCLA article was focused on baseball and it threw him a googly (howzat!) and he was overcome by the urge to rewrite.

Awesome news! (1)

edbob (960004) | about 6 years ago | (#25531139)

Since I am turning 39 today, this is seriously awesome news.

This just in, those who eat a lowfat diet are (1)

MrJerryNormandinSir (197432) | about 6 years ago | (#25531209)

Stupid!

So, go ahead and eat a nice prime rib medium well.

Man you can't win, what's good for the heart isn't good for the brain? I think the lesson here is keep everything in balance. Don't eat ultra a low fat diet.

Jack Benny (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25531229)

So Jack was on to something then...

I knew it. (1)

dar (15755) | about 6 years ago | (#25531243)

I knew it! I knew it!

What were we talking about, again?

Nobel Prizes (1)

matt4077 (581118) | about 6 years ago | (#25531411)

This somewhat contradicts the observation that most Nobel prize winners do so for research they did in their early thirties. Of course having new ideas isn't exactly the same as thinking fast. But maybe we'd get better scientists when we don't expose them to science until a later date, so that this maximum speed, some theoretical background and fresh ideas all intersect?

Guess I should quit playing Brain Age (1)

richtaur (1234738) | about 6 years ago | (#25531443)

Stupid thing keeps telling me that 20 is the ideal age.

Also, this is just one more reason to vote Obama!

Noise (3, Interesting)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | about 6 years ago | (#25531501)

Being 44 years old now, I have noticed that I'm not able to think as clearly as I did in my early thirties. In my self analysis, however, I find the biggest culprit is "brain noise." When I think about something, irrelevant associations will pop in with much greater frequency, distracting me from "pure" concentration. Which makes me wonder if it's simply a natural consequence of life: more and more detail is stored away in my head. A younger person with a relatively "empty" head isn't as distracted by all the useless dreck and is able to form thoughts more cleanly.

Even as I type this post, my lifetime of experience keep popping in with tangentially relevant information, not to mention songs triggered by phrases, movie quotes and other useless crapola. :D

I've actually wondered if there are mental exercises such as meditation that might help to quiet all the noise.

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