One of those things that I heard somewhere that has stuck with me is, "Wisdom is the ability to tell the difference between what is important and what is not." That seems to be the basis of research that shows that older people, even with declining memories, make better decisions overall than younger people.
As we age, we become more selective about what we remember, says Dr. Alan Castel of UCLA, one of the study’s lead researchers. In an earlier study, his team tested older and younger adults’ ability to recall a list of words. The initial findings, as one would expect, showed that younger subjects remembered more of the words. However, when the two groups were provided the same list, but with some words assigned a higher number value than others, older participants were better than younger subjects at remembering the words assigned high scores and ignoring those with low scores.
It appears that as we age, we may become better able to differentiate between important and less important information. “While memory tends to decline as we get older, it seems that older adults selectively remember more important information,” Castel says.
Makes plenty of sense to me. As I've gotten older, my head is still filled with useless trivia, but I no longer make an effort to memorize phone numbers or song lyrics. Of course, you know the corollary to the earlier adage: "Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement." Link -via Digg