Our ability to make random choices, which are tied to bursts of creativity, peaks at the age of 25, researchers report in a new study.

Why it matters: Random decision-making is a hallmark of human cognition. Scientists have known that our ability to make choices or behave without an apparent method diminishes with age but they don't know when that capacity peaks, which may inform our understanding of Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases.

The details: 3,400 people aged 4 to 91 years old completed a series of online tasks that asked them to create random patterns and sequences:

  1. Participants chose hypothetical results for 12 coin flips.
  2. Five cards were presented and people in the study chose which one they thought would be at the top of the deck. They did this 10 times.
  3. People taking part were instructed to imagine rolling one die 10 times and to click on a number between one and six as randomly as possible so that if another person is shown the sequence, he or she wouldn't be able to tell whether numbers were produced by actually rolling a die or made up by somebody.
  4. They clicked 10 times in a random fashion on nine dots.
  5. Participants were instructed to make a random pattern with 9 in a grid.

Using an algorithm that ranked randomness and controlling for characteristics like gender, language and education levels, the researchers found the ability to act randomly peaked at age 25, on average, and declined from there.

Go deeper

How "naked ballots" could upend mail-in voting in Pennsylvania

Trump signs in Olyphant, Penn. Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

Pennsylvania's Supreme Court ordered state officials last week to throw out mail-in ballots submitted without a required inner "secrecy" envelope in November's election, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The state of play: The decision went under the radar alongside the simultaneous decision to extend the time that mail-in ballots could be counted, but Philadelphia's top elections official warned state legislators this week that throwing out so-called "naked ballots" could bring "electoral chaos" to the state and cause "tens of thousands of votes" to be thrown out — potentially tipping the presidential election.

Commission releases topics for first presidential debate

Moderator Chris Wallace. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace has selected what topics he'll cover while moderating the first presidential debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden next week.

What to watch: Topics for the Sept. 29 debate will include Trump and Biden's records, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, economic policy, racism and the integrity of the election, the Commission for Presidential Debates announced on Tuesday. Each topic will receive 15 minutes of conversation and will be presented in no particular order.

Fed chair warns economy will feel the weight of expired stimulus

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Fed Chair Jay Powell bump elbows before House hearing on Tuesday. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday that the expiration of Congress' coronavirus stimulus will weigh on the U.S. economy.

Why it matters: Powell warned that the effects of dried-up benefits are a looming risk to the economy, even if the consequences aren't yet visible.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!