-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Jan. 24 (HealthDay News) -- The reason that many older
drivers have difficulty seeing other cars, cyclists or pedestrians
moving around them isn't necessarily the result of a reduced
ability to perceive moving objects, but rather a heightened
awareness of background movement, a new study from the University
of Rochester suggests.
In a healthy young person, a part of the brain called the medial
temporal visual area (MT) actively suppresses background motion so
that he or she can concentrate on the motion of objects in the
foreground, explained the scientists.
Elderly people are better at perceiving motion in the
background, perhaps because of an improperly functioning MT. The
findings may help lead to ways to train elderly people to be better
The researchers found the MT was responsible for this effect by
using a technique called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).
After attaching magnetic coils to the back of a subject's head, the
scientists stimulated the MT part of the brain with electrical
signals for 15 minutes to temporarily inhibit its functioning.
Then, while the MT was less active, they tested how well subjects
identified motions of various objects. They found that when MT was
less active, subjects had an easier time identifying the motion of
This new knowledge may also help diagnose people with
schizophrenia and depression, who are also better at perceiving
motion in the background, the researchers said.
The study appears Jan. 25 in the
Journal of Neuroscience.
The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about
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