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You can have pretty much the same mental condition when you are 70-80 years old as when you are 20-30. But to have that you need to keep using your brain and challenging it. Old people usually have much less opportunity to stay mentally active. And less motivation.

Statements above are based mostly on The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge[1] which I highly reccomend. Plus just listen to some old folks that you can tell are still quick - Warren Buffet 86, Chomsky 88, James Harris Simons 79 and so on.

1. https://www.amazon.com/Brain-That-Changes-Itself-Frontiers/d...




Listing old, famous intellectual people that have retained their wits is poor a excuse for evidence, since we don't know the ratio between old and famous intellectuals that have lost their wits vs that have retained them.


We also don't know the ratio of those who could retain it if they would keep thinking hard every day. It's really a lifestyle choice. You can still be wise, but when you have a lot of money you can just relax and enjoy the nature without wondering how it works. Some people just love thinking and studies suggest that it keeps them good at it (refs in that book).

I didn't mean to show by these examples that this is the default, or even that it's common. I don't think it is. But I hope it's getting better, mostly thanks to the technological progress which can be stimulating for those who choose to make use of it.


I like your optimism, and every octogenarian who can stay sharp is an inspiration to us all.

But if you look at aggregate data on chess players' ratings as they get older, or university professors' publication rates (and citations on the papers they do publish), it's really hard even for strong-willed thinkers to stay on top of their craft in their 60s and beyond.

For every Warren Buffett in business, there are a lot of Sumner Redstones ... holding on to power, but quite erratic as age takes its toll. Getting old is nasty stuff.


>Warren Buffet 86, Chomsky 88, James Harris Simons 79

Wow 3 of them! And it helps to ignore the (likelihood of) older people who kept using their brains and now have mush upstairs.


Maybe those folks were so sharp in their youth that their reduced mental capacity in old age is still a sight to behold?




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