The age of peak creativity has nothing to do with this issue.
Perhaps it is cooincidence that the greatest scientific or artistic
accomplishments occur before the age of forty. Or possibly the maximal
capacity of the brain does decline with age as is the case with muscle,
kidney, and respiratory function. It is difficulty to perform wonderful
things for an entire life time, some lives are shorter than others, and in
some cases priorities change. Besides, Feynman once wrote that we can only
solve trivial problems, the tough ones are another matter.
If you believe EEGs reflect brain activity, there are very few cortical and
subcortical regions that are always quiet. Grand Mal seizures are not
normal functions and do not set the standard for 100% use. We use
virtually all of our functioning brain, unfortunately we also accumulate
pathologies with time.
At 6:24 PM -0400 8/26/99, Martin Knopman wrote:
>>I come from mathematics where there is an enormous amount of anecdotal
>evidence. Of the great mathematicians and physicists I know of only a few
>examples of people doing revolutionary work later in life. There was
>certainly Mobius, and Gauss produced right up to the end, and Wiles was 40
>(I think) when he finished his proof, but my understanding is that these
>examples are extraordinary. Most mathematicians (sorry, most that I know,
>or read) seem to believe that the best work (most revolutionary) comes
>before 25. Writing seems to offer a more general counter example, but I'm
>not so sure that that is more a function the publishing industry than of
>actual ability. I couldn't say.
>>I am sorry that I said that it was a "fact". That was clearly my mistake.
>But, if you know of counter examples I would like to hear about them. Who
>were the greatest developers in your field, and how old were they when they
>either, had the initial ideas for their points of view or produced the work?
>i.e. Do you find a large percentage of truly creative/revolutionary ideas in
>your particular field emerging from older practitioners? Or, more directly,
>who would you generally put your money on for coming up with really new
>ideas, graduate students or long tenured faculty? I understand that this is
>all anecdotal, but that is all I can offer right now.
Richard Hall, Associate Professor of
Comparative Animal Physiology
Division of Sciences and Mathematics
University of the Virgin Islands
St. Thomas, USVI 00802
rhall at uvi.edu