Most teenagers feel confident in their ability to navigate the world and believe they could survive on their own if necessary. However, adults over 40 would likely agree that their 20s were a time of significant personal growth as experiences continued to shape who they became. In other words, our 20s are still considered formative years.

This paper from researchers at the Mayo Clinic demonstrates that brain development continues beyond the teenage years and doesn’t stop until around age 30. However, it doesn’t specify how this late development affects our cognitive abilities. Does it enhance decision-making, language skills, problem-solving, memory, emotional resilience/frailty, reaction time, or a little bit of everything?

Additionally, the paper doesn’t explain the molecular signals that control synaptic connection speed or why it stops at age 30. If we could manipulate this phenomenon pharmacologically, we could potentially alleviate cognitive difficulties in people with deficits in this system, enhance the cognitive power of people in whom this system works normally, and even use it as a treatment for individuals suffering from age-related brain disorders to extend their quality of life.