3 Life-Changing Things That Happen to Your Brain at 25
Science & Tech / /
Comparing the power of Adele’s album 25 with the fun Taylor Swift’s 1989 proves that not every 25-year- olds are the same. Both artists released these albums when they were the same age, but a completely different view on what it means to live for a quarter of a century.
There is a growing body of research that suggests that brains of 25-year-olds undergo similar changes, 3 of them life-changing. Taken together, this turning point mark the peak in human cognitive development and also signal the beginnings of a steady decline. Here is what according to science is happening.
1. The Brain Hits the Brakes
The cognitive agility of identifying patterns quickly reaches its peak at around 25.
In a recent study, researchers asked participants of the age between 9 and 91 to play seemingly random games, like coin tosses. The results showed that the ability to identify these patterns was inversely proportional to the participant's age.
Study author Hector Zenil, Ph.D., added that slowing down isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “As we age,” he explained, “we may be trading obscure tricks, like fast dice roll identification times, for something more important: real wisdom. While many cognitive skills may decline, wisdom doesn’t suddenly taper off in mid-life. Instead, it consistently increases well into our 70s.”
2. The Prefrontal Cortex Gets Lit
Though cognitive reflexes may be slowly fading, long-term planning and risk management abilities finally reach the peak.
Unlike the parts of the brain that control some basic functions like breathing, eating, and sleeping, which are formed even in utero, the prefrontal cortex which is in charge of decision making takes some time to develop.
Scientists believe that it is an explanation for teenager’s exasperating behavior. The brain of a 13-year-old has already reached its full size, but it’s still undergoing an expansive internal remodel. White matter grows thicker, synapses are very slowly, the ability to think strategically about our needs and the needs of others are still developing.
By age 25, the brain development stalls. But, this life stage again comes with few positive side effects. By that time it is assumed that most of us have figured out how to plan and prioritize well and how to control the impulses. In short, we have grown up.
3. It Gets Harder to Change
A developed brain is a hardened brain. A meta-analysis of 92 personalities published in 2009 showed that our openness to new ideas and other people tends to close off as we get older.
The research, on the other side also indicates that healthy minds, even in old age, have a lot of choices. In other words, you can choose to be open if you want to.
The same is with learning new skills. Just because holding on to memories and the ability to learn are slowly fading as we grow old, it still doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to continue growing over the course of your life. It will just take more determination and willingness to, for instance, learn to play the guitar or mastering Mandarin.