The more effectively you can think when you’re young, the better off you are later in life.

According to new research, having a higher cognitive ability in your youth is a key determiner to heightened cognitive function in adulthood – it also is an indicator of whether someone will pursue higher education and have an intellectually complex occupation (“Youthful cognitive ability,” 2019).

All these things are linked to cognitive reserve, which is “the brain’s ability to improvise and find alternative ways of getting a job done and may help people compensate for other changes associated with aging,” (“Youthful cognitive ability,” 2019).

To test this concept, researchers utilized over 1,000 men who were involved in the Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging. These men were tested in their 20s and are now being evaluated at their 50s and 60s to provide a comparison for their cognitive ability – the test itself measured GCA, or General Cognitive Ability, alongside other important cognitive domains, “such as memory, abstract reasoning and verbal fluency” (“Youthful cognitive ability,” 2019).

It was found that GCA at age 20 “accounted for 40 percent of the variance in the same measure at age 62”, with other factors, like job complexity and education level, accounting for less than 1 percent of the variance.

“The findings suggest that the impact of education, occupational complexity and engagement in cognitive activities on later life cognitive function likely reflects reserve causation…in other words, they are largely downstream effects of young adult intellectual capacity,” stated William S. Kremen, PhD, professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine (“Youthful cognitive ability,” 2019).

Reference: University of California – San Diego. (2019, January 21). Youthful cognitive ability strongly predicts mental capacity later in life: Education, job complexity and intellectual activities play only minor roles. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 27, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190121153651.htm