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Does thinking like a kid help slow the aging process?

At some point in our lives, we’re all pressured to give up our adolescent ways.

We transition into financially responsible, well-balanced, well-rounded grown-ups — a concept the internet likes to call adulting. You’re supposed to think like a grown-up, making decisions by drawing on all that you’ve learned over the years — or, at the very least, you’re supposed to want to think like a grown-up.

But what if adulting is overrated? Sometimes, it turns out, it might be better to strive for a younger mind-set: In a paper recently published in the journal Human Development, Rachel Wu, a psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside, theorizes that you can learn new skills more effectively by “thinking like an infant.”

In her paper, Wu points out that although getting older is generally associated with a cognitive decline, the details of why that happens are unclear.

As we age, we often feel less sharp.

But we can’t quite explain why we feel that way, and Wu suggests it has something to do with the way we learn. But we can change this pattern, she argues, by retraining ourselves to think more like children. “We argue that across your lifespan, you go from ‘broad learning’ (learning many skills as an infant or child) to ‘specialized learning,’ (becoming an expert in a specific area) when you begin working,” Wu said in a statement. “And that leads to cognitive decline initially in some unfamiliar situations, and eventually in both familiar and unfamiliar situations.”

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