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frankieleon/Flickr

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

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Venezuela's predictable elections herald an uncertain future

The watchful eyes of Hugo Chávez on an election poster in Caracas. Photo: Cristian Hernandez/AFP via Getty

Venezuelans will go to the polls on Sunday, Nicolás Maduro will complete his takeover of the last opposition-held body, and much of the world will refuse to recognize the results.

The big picture: The U.S. and dozens of other countries have backed an opposition boycott of the National Assembly elections on the grounds that — given Maduro's tactics (like tying jobs and welfare benefits to voting), track record, and control of the National Electoral Council — they will be neither free nor fair.

Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office

Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Gettu Images

President-elect Joe Biden told CNN on Thursday that he plans to ask the American public to wear face masks for the first 100 days of his presidency.

The big picture: Biden also stated he has asked NIAID director Anthony Fauci to stay on in his current role, serve as a chief medical adviser and be part of his COVID-19 response team when he takes office early next year.

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