What happens to you at 40: fluid vs. crystallized intelligence

fluid intel

Brain Games is a neat little show.  On one episode they assembled a league of forty something geezers vs. twenty somethings in a series of problem solving challenges.  The point was to try to discover a pattern of who was better at solving different types of problems.  But what happened was that the pattern was not found in the type of problem but rather in the technique.

Soaring by the pants seat

They concluded that as we age we gain experience and use more of what they called “crystalized intelligence” while young people rely on “fluid intelligence”.   The latter suggests that young people tend to figure things out on the fly since they lack experience.

I’ve read some sites that try to break down the things that happen to us as we age.  They talk about short term memory loss, trouble with names etc.  Yep.  That stuff is real.  Can’t deny it.  But the mentions about the “slowing down” of our brains might be debatable.

Slow is fast

If we use “crystallized intelligence” more as we age, could it be that we are slower because we become accustomed to looking at all situations through the prism of our experience?  Could it be that we curmudgeons slow things down on purpose so we can avoid pain that intuition just can’t anticipate?  If we factor in the shorter path to success this often yields, shouldn’t that count for something?

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