Apr 15, 2017

Our ability to make random, “creative” choices peaks at 25


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.

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History's largest lockdown leaves Indian workers stranded, afraid

A migrant worker on the move with his child, in Gurugram, India. Photo: Parveen Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty

Few moments better capture the world into which we've slipped than the decision of one man to order 1.4 billion into lockdown.

Why it matters: India’s three-week lockdown is the largest ever attempted, and it sparked South Asia's greatest migration since partition in 1947. While the economic effects could be devastating, the public health crisis it's intended to fend off could be more destructive still.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 782,319 — Total deaths: 37,582 — Total recoveries: 164,565.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 161,807 — Total deaths: 2,953 — Total recoveries: 5,595.
  3. Federal government latest: The White House will extend its social distancing guidelines until April 30.
  4. State updates: Rural-state governors say testing is still inadequate, contradicting Trump — Virginia, Maryland and D.C. issue stay-at-home orders to residents, joining 28 other states.
  5. Business latest: Ford and General Electric aim to make 50,000 ventilators in 100 days.
  6. In photos: Navy hospital ship arrives in Manhattan.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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First U.S. service member dies from coronavirus

Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

The Pentagon on Monday announced the death of a member of the New Jersey National Guard who tested positive for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: It's the first U.S. service member — active, reserve or Guard — to die from the virus, according to the Pentagon. The guardsman passed away on Saturday after being hospitalized for the novel coronavirus on March 21.

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