Unless you are Hugh Hefner, age brings with it many disappointments. Our physical and mental acuity, for example, start to decline in our mid-20s. But one thing gets better with age -- at least until about 34.
Harvard researchers report that our ability to recognize others doesn't peak until we are in our 30s.
"We all look at faces and practice face-watching, all the time," researcher Laura T. Germine, a Ph.D. student in psychology, tells Harvard Gazette. "It may be that the parts of the brain we use to recognize faces require this extended period of tuning in early adulthood to help us learn and remember a wide variety of different faces."This is tremendous news because, as we know, we are running at maximum brown-nosing capacity in our third decade, the time when we turn the promise of our 20s into the hard-charging, high-paying career of the rest of our work life.
Being able to pull a name out of a hat when you encounter someone in the elevator -- "Why Hello Ms. Recently-Appointed-CFO and how are your kids Biff and Tricia?" -- just could lead a promotion.
More good news. Face recognition skills diminish slowly, with a 65-year-old having the same capacity to match faces and names as a 16-year-old.
So even though you can't remember where you put the &*%$! keys, at least you can say "Thanks Bill" when they are returned.