When Do Your Cognitive Powers Peak?

Your cognitive abilities have already peaked? Your cognitive abilities will peak in the future? Your cognitive abilities will never peak? Well, which one is it?! I though to myself “some people are getting better at some things and worse at other things at every age. Also, some things seem to never change. I certainly can’t be the only one who thinks this!” So, I decided to do some research and inform you all through this blog post.

 This article quotes:final blog image

“Scientists have long known that our ability to think quickly and recall information, also known as fluid intelligence, peaks around age 20 and then begins a slow decline.” 

Researchers Joshua Hartshorn and Laura Germine did a study to find out the truth behind this. 

To collect data, Hartshorn and Germine used a large pool of online participants. They had the participants complete four different types of cognitive tasks as well as one task that “looked at the ability to detect the emotional states of other people.” Interesting. These tasks were designed to measure cognitive abilities that change as people age. The results revealed what researchers called “considerable heterogeneity in when cognitive abilities peak.” 


  • 18-19: Information-processing speed peaks early, then immediately begins to decline.
  • 25: Short-term memory gets better until around age 25. It remains fairly steady for some time, but then begins to decline around age 35.
  • 30: Memory for faces peaks and then starts to gradually decline.
  • 35: Your short-term memory begins to weaken and decline.
  • 40s-50s: Emotional Understanding peaks in middle to later childhood.
  • 60s: Vocabulary abilities continue to increase.
  • 60s and 70s: Crystallized intelligence, or accumulated knowledge and facts about the world, peaks late in life.

Although some of these results were a surprise to me, I found all of them to be interesting. All of these deal with the day-to-day life of individuals. I can relate a lot of these findings to what we have learned in class, too. Earlier in the semester we talked about short-term memory. We learned about what it is, but not about the time in your life when it’s at its peak (around age 25) or even when it declines (around age 35). We also learned about information-processing in class, which peaks around ages 18-19. I’m only 19 years old so this is the only age range from this data that I have personally experienced- I agree with the data!


According to the researchers, the online research is continuing. Hartshorn and Germine are continuing research by incorporating more cognitive tasks and other tests. I believe that Hartshorn and Germine did a great job- what they found was really interesting and informative. I can’t wait to see what other cognitive research they come up with!

1 thought on “When Do Your Cognitive Powers Peak?

  1. rguenthe

    This article is really interesting! I think it is cool how your information processing peaks right around the time when you are entering college or in your first year of college. I did a post earlier this semester about how brain apps can help with your cognitive functioning so I wonder if adults who are using brain apps help increase there chances of keeping a good short term memory. It is unfortunate your memory for faces does not peak until your 30s. Being in college you meet a lot of new people and I know if I meet someone at an event it is hard to remember them the next time I see them.

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