When the going gets tough, older adults brains get going, according to new research by a University of Michigan professor studying how key regions of the brain click on when needed.
Several regions in the brain, especially in the frontal cortex, are involved in helping people meet the demands of a constantly changing environment. While earlier research focused on older adults failures to activate these regions, the new U-M research found that older adults can activate these regions in response to a challenging task, and may also bring additional brain regions online to help their performance.
"Older adults brains can indeed rise to the challenge, at least in some situations, although they may do so differently than young adults," said Cindy Lustig, a U-M assistant psychology professor who designed the study, which was conducted at Washington University in St. Louis. "We are continuing to collect data from these groups and are also beginning to test young children and middle-aged adults as well."
Lustig and her colleagues will now look for relationships between brain activity and structure, task performance and other mental tests. The study was part of a larger research effort to understand what enables people to successfully perform in situations that demand control, and how the brains reaction to control demands may change throughout their lifetime.
Joe Serwach | EurekAlert!
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