-- Alan Mozes
TUESDAY, Jan. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Good news for seniors: Your
decision-making skills may be as quick and sharp as college
students, researchers report.
Their accumulated data suggests that older people who remain
mentally healthy are potentially as capable as younger people when
it comes to thinking fast without making mistakes.
Ratcliff and his colleagues report their findings in the current
online issue of
"Many people think that it is just natural for older people's brains to slow down as they age, but we're finding that isn't always true," study co-author Roger Ratcliff, a professor of psychology at Ohio State University, said in a journal news release. "At least in some situations, 70-year-olds may have response times similar to those of 25-year olds."
The researchers analyzed the results of word accuracy and
symbol-based cognitive (thinking) testing among very young children
(as young as the second grade). They found that response time in
decision-making starts out more slowly and less accurately in
children compared with adults, but goes on to improve by the time
people reach college age.
"Younger children are not able to make as good of use of the information they are presented, so they are less accurate," Ratcliff explained. "That improves as they mature."
Ratcliff's group also pointed to prior research involving the
same type of cognitive testing conducted among three age groups:
college-aged students, adults aged 60 to 74, and adults aged 75 to
In that instance, the results suggested that while accuracy was
comparable across age groups, college students tended to respond
more quickly than seniors.
But, when the seniors were actively prodded to respond more
quickly, they proved capable of doing so --- just as speedily as
those in their 20s.
While noting that some aspects of mental processing do suffer
with age (such as "associative memory"), the team concluded that
getting old does not necessarily mean losing one's ability to think
fast and well.
"The older view was that all cognitive processes decline at the same rate as people age," Ratcliff said. "We're finding that there isn't such a uniform decline. There are some things that older people do nearly as well as young people."
There's more on how the brain changes with age at the
University of Southern California.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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