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Scientifically, this is the best age for you to lead

来源:中国日报    2019-05-13 08:53

        Aging isn’t only a downhill journey. While some of our mental faculties almost always decline over time, other cognitive abilities can stay the same, or even improve, scientists have discovered. The overall balance of these losses and gains means that for most people, the ideal time to tackle leadership roles is in their mid-50s, according to Darlene Howard, a psychologist emerita at Georgetown University.        变老不意味着什么都在走下坡路。科学家发现,尽管我们的一部分大脑功能随着年龄增长而衰退,其他认知能力则会保持不变甚至会变强。乔治城大学的心理学家荣誉退休教授达琳·霍华德指出,综合平衡这些得失的结果显示,多数人的领导能力在55岁左右达到高峰。
        In healthy individuals, some parts of the brain shrink starting in our 20s. This shrinkage, which is not a loss of neurons but rather changes in size and connections among neurons, leads to differences in cognitive functions. In most cases, these changes are so gradual, it’s easy to adapt to them over time. On average, older adults tend to lose capabilities like mental speed, which can affect reaction times or the ability to connect different types of information, compared to younger individuals. Learning new material can become more difficult (but not impossible), and it may become harder to recall specific words or remained focused on a specific task in the presence of distractions.        健康人的大脑会从20多岁开始部分萎缩。这种萎缩不是丧失神经元,而是神经元的大小和联系发生改变,导致认知能力的差异。在大多数情况下,这些改变都是逐渐发生的,随着时间过去人们可以轻松地适应这些改变。平均而言,年长的成年人和年轻人相比,大脑反应速度会变慢,将不同类型信息联系到一起的能力也会减退。学习新知识会变得更困难(但也不是不可能),而且更难以回忆起特定词汇,或在受干扰的情况下集中注意力处理特定任务。
        The brain has some flexibility, though. In 2009, Denise Park, a psychologist at the University of Texas at Dallas, and Patricia Reuter-Lorenz at the University of Michigan gave this flexibility a name: STAC, or the Scaffolding Theory of Aging and Cognition. The theory states that as the brain perceives challenges to cognition, it can find new ways to work around them. An older person may use more regions of her brain to accomplish a task than a younger individual, but both people could do the job equally well.        不过,大脑也会灵活应对这些改变。2009年,美国达拉斯市的德克萨斯大学的心理学家丹尼斯·帕克和密歇根大学的帕特丽夏·路透-洛伦兹给这种灵活性起了一个名字:变老与认知的脚手架理论(缩写为STAC)。这一理论指出,大脑会察觉到认知的挑战,因此会找到绕过挑战的新工作方式。年纪更大的人在执行任务时可能会比年轻人运用更多的大脑区域,但两者都能同样出色地完成工作。
        In some cases this adaptation may actually be beneficial. Older adults can have better vocabularies, because, although recalling words may be harder, they’ve had time to learn more of them, Howard said. They can also be better at solving interpersonal or abstract problems. Temporal discounting, or valuing the future just as much if not more than the present, tends to also get better with age, as does the ability to regulate emotions and cope with negative feelings, Howard explained at a forum at the National Press Foundation earlier this month.        在某些情况下,大脑的这种应变实际上可能是有益的。霍华德说,年长的人词汇量更大,尽管更难以回忆起词汇,但他们过去所学的词汇更多。而且,他们更善于解决人际问题或抽象问题。霍华德在本月初的国家新闻基金会的一个论坛上解释说,随着年龄增长,时间贴现或未来时间洞察力也会提高,与此同时,调节情绪和应对负面情绪的能力也会改善。
        So at what point are the cognitive gains associated with aging at their maximum, while losses are at a minimum? Probably mid-50s, Howard said, when asked about the ideal age for a US president. However, there’s so much variability in the way that individual’s brains may change over time, it’s not a perfect predictor of ideal leadership skills.        那么,伴随年龄而来的认知红利最大化而认知能力衰退最小化的时候是几岁呢?很可能是55岁,被问及美国总统最理想年龄时霍华德回答道。但是,个体的大脑随着时间会发生各种改变,所以不能用55岁来界定最佳领导力。
        Still, seven of the CEOs in the top 10 of Fortune’s list of the 10 biggest companies from 2018 fall between the ages of 50 to 60 years old.        尽管如此,《财富》杂志列出的2018全球十强企业的十位首席执行官有七位的年龄在50岁到60岁之间。
        沃尔玛的董明伦:52岁        埃克森美孚公司的戴伦·伍兹:54岁
        Of course, cognitive abilities alone do not determine leadership capabilities. If an older leader with ample experience effectively surrounded herself with younger, knowledgable staff, it could be possible for her to be just as effective than younger individuals.        当然,光是认知能力并不能决定领导力。如果一位经验丰富的年长领导者手下都是知识渊博的年轻员工,她可能会和年轻人一样高效。
        Notably, the mid-50s aren’t necessarily the peak of other aspects of life. Previous work has shown that at this age in the US, people tend to report they are the least happy, and depression rates are highest. People appear to be the happiest and least depressed after the age of 70, when they have likely exited the workforce.        值得注意的是,55岁左右并不一定是人生其他方面的巅峰年龄。先前的研究显示,据报告这个年龄的美国人往往是最不快乐的,抑郁症发作率也是最高的。人们最快乐和最不抑郁的年龄似乎是70岁后,那时候通常都已经退休。

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