At What Age is Your Brain the Sharpest? (+ 4 Tips to Sustain it Over Time) | Iris Reading
At What Age is Your Brain the Sharpest?

At What Age is Your Brain the Sharpest? (+ 4 Tips to Sustain it Over Time)

At What Age is Your Brain the Sharpest?

Your brain reaches its peak processing power and memory capacity at 18. There’s no particular age when you’re best at everything, as people reach their greatest capacity for different abilities at different ages. For example, peak facial recognition ability happens at 32, and your vocabulary skills are sharpest in your late 60s.

The human brain continually develops and changes throughout adulthood. So, it’s normal to wonder when your cognitive abilities are strongest. There are different ways to sustain your brain, no matter how old you are.

This post will discuss the age at which different mental abilities typically peak.

Read on to learn how to keep your cognitive abilities functional over time.

What age is your mind the sharpest?

The human brain attains peak processing power and memory around age 18. After studying how intelligence changes over time, scientists found that participants in their late teens had the highest performance.

Hartshorne concluded that after analyzing normative data from standardized IQ and memory tests of 48,537 online participants.

Scientists assessed everything from dementia to brain damage with a Digit Symbol Substitution test. 

The test involves using several cognitive tests simultaneously — including sustained attention, processing speed, and visual skills. It’s part of the famous Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale.

The ability to learn unfamiliar names -22

Your ability to memorize bits of information without context reaches its highest capacity at age 22. People above this age face a tougher challenge trying to remember unfamiliar names.

You’ll find that people in their early 20s are more likely to remember strange names than older adults. 

So it’s easier to remember a story about someone who bakes than a person whose last name is Baker. The name doesn’t stick firmly in your memory because there’s no context linking the person to the name.

Peak facial recognition ability – 32

On average, your ability to recognize new faces peaks around age 32. Scientists suggest that the late-blooming nature of facial recognition may be a case of practice making perfect.

After studying in a group of people with a superior ability to remember unfamiliar faces, researchers found that many were between 30 to 34 years old.

Concentration abilities – 43

Your ability to stay focused improves with age and peaks at around age 43. So, if you’re having trouble focusing, it’s probably because your best days are ahead.

Researchers from Harvard University and the Boston Attention and Learning Laboratory concluded that adults approaching their mid-years have higher concentration abilities than younger adults.

They may not be the best in the speed and flexibility of information processing, but their capacity to remain focused is unmatched.

Peak emotional intelligence – 48

Human beings are best at identifying others’ emotions around age 48. After a study, Hartshorne found that people in their late 40s had the highest performance.

It was after Hartshorne showed thousands of people different face images cropped around the eye area and asked them to describe the person’s emotion in the photo.

The ability to do basic arithmetic – 50

Your math skills don’t reach their peak until age 50. You’re also best at learning and understanding new information at this age.

In his study, Hartshorne concluded that people in their 50s have the highest capacity to understand general information such as historical events and political ideas.

Many people stop practicing math after leaving school. So, they believe that their math skills worsen due to a lack of practice. But that’s not the case, as your ability to perform basic subtraction and division is best at age 50.

Peak vocabulary skills – 67

Your vocabulary skills are sharpest around age 67. Scores on multiple-choice vocabulary tests show that most people reach their peak vocabulary abilities in their late 60s or early 70s.

So, if you suck at scrabble, it may be because you’ve not achieved peak vocabulary capacity.

4 Tips to keep your brain sharp

You can sharpen your brain by eating well, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising. Your body and mind need to be in good shape. It will also benefit you to take a memory course.

Let’s dive deeper into these tips.

1. Exercise your mind

You can sharpen your mind through reading, engaging in stimulating conversations, playing challenging games, and other practices.

Here’s how these practices can help you exercise your mind:


One of the best ways to exercise your brain is reading. Studies show that reading prevents cognitive decline.

Make a habit of reading books if you want to keep your mind sharp. Nighttime might be the best time to read – you’re resting, which means you’re calm.

The conditions at night are favorable for reading because it will be quieter and the weather will be cooler.

Choose a comfortable environment when reading. A place with minimal distractions is perfect and will help your comprehension and retention. So, get rid of anything that can distract you and focus on the pages you’re reading.

Take frequent breaks to refresh your brain. It helps you prevent exhaustion and improves your retention.

Engage in stimulating conversations 

It’s easy to become addicted to your TV and computer in this digital era, but you should put away the screens from time to time. Instead, engage in real conversations with intelligent people.

It will help you exercise your mind, as conversations require quick thinking.

Play interactive and challenging games 

Studies show that your mind has a 65% to 75% likelihood of staying sharp when you play challenging games.

Play games like sudoku and chess to challenge your intellectual capacity and exercise your mind.

2. Eliminate or reduce stress

Research shows that chronic stress can shrink the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory. That’s why you must eliminate or reduce stress consciously if you want a sharper brain and improved memory.

You’ll achieve this through meditation, aromatherapy, yoga, and other relaxation practices. Meditation does the opposite of what stress does to your body. It’s a great way to lower your stress levels and calm your body.

You only require a quiet environment to meditate. Set a time limit and focus your attention. If your mind wanders, bring it back kindly. Yoga also helps with stress reduction, as it combines physical and mental exercises focused on breathing.

Aromatherapy sends signals to the limbic system (the amygdala and the hippocampus), parts of the brain related to emotion and memory. This way, the practice helps to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and improve memory.

You can do it at home. Just add essential oils to your bathwater or light-scented candles in your room, and you’re good to go.

3. Maintain a good body shape

Working out to stay in shape has both physical and mental health benefits. Studies have shown that aerobic exercise can increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in different parts of the brain. 


The protein BDNF enhances memory function by promoting the growth of new brain cells. You must incorporate physical exercise into your daily routine if you want to stay in shape.

Work out for 15 minutes every day and don’t miss more than one day a week. 

Physical exercise can keep your body in shape, but you must also eat nutritiously.

Eat well

Your body functions properly when it gets proper nutrition. 

Memory-boosting food such as oily fish, dark chocolate, berries, and more can help sharpen your mind.

Mackerel, salmon, and tuna are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which help to build and repair brain cells. 

Berries and dark chocolate are rich in antioxidants, which lower cellular inflammation that lead to neurodegenerative disorders.

Make sure your diet contains whole grains, seeds, and nuts, as they are rich in memory-boosting vitamins such as B12 and E. These vitamins help prevent memory loss.

Get plenty of sleep 

You’re more productive when you’ve had a good night’s sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, your ability to focus will be affected, which in turn affects your comprehension and retention.

Also, memory consolidation occurs during sleep, strengthening the neural connections that form your memory. Thus, lack of sleep will negatively affect your memory function.

So, strive to improve the quality and quantity of sleep you get every day. Start by cutting down on your caffeine intake. Apart from reducing the amount of sleep you get, caffeine can also affect the quality of your sleep.

Drink plenty of water 

Ensure to stay hydrated at all times, as the cells in your body depend on it to produce energy from food. Not drinking enough water means reduced energy production, which can cause fatigue and concentration problems.

When you’re dehydrated, it affects your mood, thinking ability, and energy level.

Take brain supplements 

Supplementation helps ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients your body requires. Nothing beats eating a brain-boosting diet, but if you can’t get recommended nutrients from food, you need a nutrient boost.

Brain supplements can help improve your memory function and reduce memory loss. They are rich in essential brain booster nutrients such as B vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin E.

4. Take a memory course

You’ll benefit from taking courses designed specially to sharpen your mind. It’s one of the fastest ways to learn, as you’ll be learning from an expert.

Iris Reading has a Maximizing Memory course that will help you better your memory. You’ll also find a plethora of courses aimed at improving your reading ability and memory. The classes will improve your comprehension and help you remember what you read.

The Iris Reading Maximizing Memory course can sharpen your mind by teaching how to:

  • Improve focus and limit distraction
  • Use the 80-20 rule to improve comprehension
  • Deal with charts and diagrams
  • Get through boring reading material
  • How to effectively use the link system to improve memory 
  • Read to optimize comprehension
  • Deal with technical terms

The course will also help you overcome things that prevent you from remembering what you read. 


As we age, so does the brain, but we can sustain our cognitive abilities over time. 

The human brain attains peak processing power and memory around age 18. After gathering data from thousands of online participants, Joshua Hartshorne and Laura Germine noticed a consistency when certain mental abilities peaked.

You can keep your brain sharp by exercising your body and mind, eliminating stress, and eating well. Taking a course proves to be one of the fastest ways to flatten the learning curve.

Iris Reading has many courses to boost your cognitive capabilities and improve your productivity. Learn from our experts and enjoy lifetime access to our instructional videos.

Take the course today!

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  • Daniel Feenstra

    Thank you it has been a great asset.
    I’m 74 years old never been to anywhere to study
    Recently I’m studying English and I’m hoping to do Proficiency exam,
    You gave me courage !

  • Great

    Thanks for this, it was really helpful

  • Brian

    This is amazing thank you so much. I graduated from school over a decade ago and this is exactly what I was looking for to get confident to get back into my studies and well, kill it in my new career.

    • Paul Nowak

      You’re welcome! Best of luck with your studies and in your new career!