Seniors / Aging News

New Imaging Research Shows Strengths And Weaknesses Of The Aging Brain, Points To Ways To Improve Cognition In Older Adults

New human research just released shows the benefits and challenges for the aging brain. The studies probe common characteristics of normal aging - including memory loss, reduced sleep quality, and decision-making problems - and suggest the benefits of exercise, hormone treatment, and social interaction. The findings were presented at Neuroscience 2011, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world's largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.

Neuroscientists believe the brain can remain relatively healthy as it ages. By better understanding the aging brain, researchers hope to benefit the 500 million people worldwide who are 65 or older.

The new findings show that:

The Elderly Lose Their Ability To Distinguish Between Odors, Posing Hazards

Scientists studying how the sense of smell changes as people age, found that olfactory sensory neurons in those 60 and over showed an unexpected response to odor that made it more difficult to distinguish specific smells, putting them at greater risk from dangerous chemicals and poor nutrition.

Risk-Taking Behavior Rises Until Age 50

Willing to risk your knowledge, skills and monetary reward in competition? If you are under age 50, you've probably not reached your competitive peak. If you are older, that peak is behind you. That people are willing to engage in risk at 50 surprised University of Oregon economists and psychologists who explored such behavior in their research.

Ever since former Harvard University President Lawrence Summers lit up the news in 2005 with his comment that innate differences between men and women may explain the lower numbers of women in the upper echelons of science, researchers have been exploring the impact of gender differences and risk-taking across the lifespan, said Ulrich Mayr, professor of psychology.

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