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When Do Cognitive Skills Peak?

Posted May 28 2014 10:08pm

Simon Fraser University (Canada) researchers conducted a social science investigation, involving the digital performance records of 3,305 people, ages 16 to 44 years, who play the videogame StarCraft 2.  These performance records, which can be readily replayed, constitute big data because they represent thousands of hours worth of strategic real-time cognitive-based moves performed at varied skill levels. Using complex statistical modeling, the researchers  ascertained how players responded to their opponents as well as how long they took to react.  Data analysis revealed that by over 24 years of age, one may have already reached his/her peak in terms of cognitive motor performance.   Interestingly, the study authors comment that: “Older players, though slower, seem to compensate by employing simpler strategies and using the game's interface more efficiently than younger players, enabling them to retain their skill, despite cognitive motor-speed loss."

Joseph J. Thompson, Mark R. Blair, Andrew J. Henrey.  “Over the Hill at 24: Persistent Age-Related Cognitive-Motor Decline in Reaction Times in an Ecologically Valid Video Game Task Begins in Early Adulthood.” PLOS ONE, 9 April 2014.

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