A new study of winners of the Nobel Prize in economics finds that there are two different life cycles of creativity, one that hits some people early in their career and another that more often strikes later in life.
In this study, the early peak was found for laureates in their mid-20s and the later peak for those in their mid-50s.
The Nobel Prize winners who did their most groundbreaking work early in their career tended to be "conceptual" innovators.
These type of innovators "think outside the box," challenging conventional wisdom and tend to come up with new ideas suddenly.
But there is another kind of creativity which is found among "experimental" innovators.
These innovators accumulate knowledge through their careers and find groundbreaking ways to analyze, interpret and synthesize that information into new ways of understanding.
The long periods of trial and error required for important experimental innovations make them tend to occur late in a Nobel laureate's career.