More Education, Better Cognitive Functioning Later In Life, Study Shows

Monday, September 3, 2018 - 12:31

Based on the research carried out by researchers at UC Berkeley, higher levels of education are tied to later ages of peak cognitive functioning.

According to the research published in the journal PLoS One, researchers examined relationships between educational attainment, cognitive performance and learning in order to quantify the cumulative effect of attending school.

Its findings suggest that higher levels of education may help stave off age-related cognitive decline. In addition, the team found that education did not have a large impact on novel learning, or learning something new at various points in time.

The work, which reviewed the performance of around 196,000 subscribers to Lumosity online brain-training games, is believed to be the largest to date to evaluate cognitive effects of prior educational experience on past and future performance.

Researchers said their findings may be of value to psychologists, sociologists, neuroscientists, education researchers and policymakers.

The study’s findings are consistent with prior evidence that the brain adapts in response to challenges, a phenomenon called “experience-dependent brain plasticity.” Based on the principles of plasticity, the authors predicted improvements in cognitive skills that are repeatedly taxed in demanding, cognitively engaging coursework.

Differences in performance were small for test subjects with a bachelor’s degree compared to those with a high school diploma, and moderate for those with doctorates compared to those with only some high school education.

The researchers noted that people from lower educational backgrounds learned novel tasks nearly as well as those from higher ones.

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