The long-held belief that older people perform slower and worse than younger people has been proven wrong. In a study published today in Neuron, psychologists from McMaster University discovered that the ageing process actually improves certain abilities: Older people appear to be better and faster at grasping the big picture than their younger counterparts.
"Going into the study, we knew that ageing changes the way people see the world," says Allison Sekuler, one of the senior authors and a Canada Research Chair at McMaster. "But these results are an unusual twist on the standard ageing makes you worse story, and they provide clear insight into what is changing in the ageing brain."
Using computer-generated stimuli, the researchers monitored how much time subjects needed to process information about the direction in which a set of bars moved. When the bars were small, or when the bars were low in contrast (light gray vs. dark gray), younger subjects took less time to see the direction of motion. But when the bars were large, and high in contrast (black vs. white), older subjects outperformed the younger subjects.
Jane Christmas | EurekAlert!
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