Health & Fitness

Older and getting better

Researchers at Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute recently found that with age you gain not only knowledge but a greater ability to correct your mistakes.

The researchers tested 44 young adults (average age 24) and 45 older adults (average age 74) by asking them hundreds of questions until each volunteer reached a total of 40 incorrect answers. They were also given the correct answer following each incorrect response. It took an average of 244 questions for the older adults to reach 40 mistakes and around 230 for the younger adults. Both groups were then re-tested on the questions they got wrong. Those results? The older group corrected more of their errors than the younger group did.

The researchers concluded that “the older adults were able to rally their attentional resources to learn the true answers.” In other words, they were better at learning from their mistakes and updating their knowledge with new information. (That’s why you can’t consider most politicians to be mature adults.)