December 21, 2016
Why Your Problem-Solving Skills May Sharpen with Age
You may get better at creative problem solving as you age, new research suggests.
Researchers reviewed more than 100 studies on problem solving and aging that were conducted from 1960 to 2016, looking at both data on people's behavior and evidence from brain scans. The scientists found that, generally, older adults' ability to focus and avoid distraction was not as strong as that of young adults' — but that this in turn may help older adults to perform better on some creativity and problem-solving tasks.
The researchers were surprised at the strength of the findings that a lowered ability to focus and avoid distraction could improve people's performance on tasks that require creativity,
The ability to focus does help people with some specific, goal-driven tasks, such as reading, the researchers said. However, the ability to focus does not help — and may actually hinder — people's performance on tasks that require broader attention, Hasher and her colleagues concluded.
The researchers concluded in their review that older adults' "broader scope of attention" is better suited for tasks that require integrating larger amounts of information — such as solving problems in creative ways, or recognizing patterns over time — rather than tasks that require a narrower focus.
An area of the brain called the frontoparietal region is associated with focus, processing relevant information and disregarding distracting information, the researchers said. Evidence suggests that, as people age, this region's activity decreases, which may contribute to the reduced ability to focus and avoid distractions, the researchers said. However, this decrease in activity may allow older adults to draw on a broader range of knowledge to come up with creative solutions to problems.
Source: Stephanie Bucklin/Live Science/Yahoo
Proverbs 3:5 (ESV)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
Psalm 92:12 and 14 (NET)
The godly grow like a palm tree…
They bear fruit even when they are old…
What does today’s God’s Story scripture teach us about problem solving?
God’s plans for us encompass our entire lives. We know that no matter our age, we must lean on God rather than on our own knowledge. Science is recognizing how the brain may compensate as we age. But this is nothing new to God; he has promised that we will continue to bear fruit - even when we are old. We may become more easily distracted as we age, but as we continue to lean on God we may become more creative in solving problems.
How can I connect today’s God’s Story scripture to my life?
How interesting that as one part of the brain diminishes, another part may become stronger. Personally, I believe one spiritual attribute that sharpens with age is increased appreciation of the value of prayer. According to bibleteaching.com, problem solving for Christians involves several steps: recognize the problem, pray, identify the cause, consider different solutions, pick the best one, devise and implement a plan, evaluate. I’m tempted to tweak these steps a little bit: recognize the problem, pray; identify the cause, pray; consider different solutions, pray…you get the idea. God is the ultimate creative problem solver and I want to remember to pray continually as I lean on his understanding and guidance.
How can I connect Today’s Story, God’s Story, and My Story to others?
What problem solving step gives you the most trouble? Ask a friend to brainstorm with you. And be there for your friend’s problems. Pray together as you lean on God each step of the way.