Cognitive Decline and the Peak Age for Philosophy


Speaking of video games, Starcraft 2 is a “military science fiction real-time video game” that is used in at least one classroom to teach “critical thinking, problem solving, resource management, and adaptive decision making.” It also has been used by researchers at Simon Fraser University to demonstrate that “measurable declines in cognitive performance begin to occur at age 24.” The study has an overblown title, “Over the Hill at 24,” but all it seems to show is that subjects playing Starcraft 2 play worse the further past age 24 they get. I suppose that “Kids Better than Their Parents at Video Games” is a less earth-shattering title. The authors take their study to capture age-related declines in cognitive motor function better than other studies because their subjects are tested on a “real world” task. Of playing a video game.

The authors of the study note that cognitive motor function is not the only relevant variable in perfomance, and that, for example, “academic psychologists seem to be most productive at 40 years of age, suggesting that any earlier age-related decline is trumped by skill development.” What about philosophers? There have been very few philosophical prodigies (Mill, Kripke, others?), and 24 seems on the young side. Is there an average age at which philosophers tend to peak?

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