Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Old and young brains rely on different systems to remember emotional content

18.12.2008
Neuroscientists from Duke University Medical Center have discovered that older people use their brains differently than younger people when it comes to storing memories, particularly those associated with negative emotions.

The study, appearing online in the January issue of Psychological Science, is a novel look at how brain connections change with age.

Older adults, average age 70, and younger adults, average age 24, were shown a series of 30 photographs while their brains were imaged in a functional MRI (fMRI) machine. Some of the photos were neutral in nature and others had strong negative content such as attacking snakes, mutilated bodies and violent acts. While in the fMRI machine, the subjects looked at the photos and ranked them on a pleasantness scale. Then they completed an unexpected recall task following the fMRI scan to determine whether the brain activity that occurred while looking at the pictures could predict later memory. The results were sorted according to the numbers of negative and neutral pictures that were remembered or missed by each group.

The scientists found that older adults have less connectivity between an area of the brain that generates emotions and a region involved in memory and learning. But they also found that the older adults have stronger connections with the frontal cortex, the higher thinking area of the brain that controls these lower-order parts of the brain.

Young adults used more of the brain regions typically involved in emotion and recalling memories.

"The younger adults were able to recall more of the negative photos," said Roberto Cabeza, Ph.D., senior author and Duke professor in the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. If the older adults are using more thinking than feeling, "that may be one reason why older adults showed a reduction in memory for pictures with a more negative emotional content."

"It wasn't surprising that older people showed a reduction in memory for negative pictures, but it was surprising that the older subjects were using a different system to help them to better encode those pictures they could remember," said lead author Peggy St. Jacques, a graduate student in the Cabeza laboratory.

The emotional centers of the older subjects were as active as those of younger subjects -- it was the brain connections that differed.

"If using the frontal regions to perform a memory task was always beneficial, then the young people would use that strategy, too," Cabeza said. "Each way of doing a task has some trade-offs. Older people have learned to be less affected by negative information in order to maintain their well being and emotional state – they may have sacrificed more accurate memory for a negative stimulus, so that they won't be so affected by it."

"Perhaps at different stages of life, there are different brain strategies," Cabeza speculated. "Younger adults might need to keep an accurate memory for both positive and negative information in the world. Older people dwell in a world with a lot of negatives, so perhaps they have learned to reduce the impact of negative information and remember in a different way." According to Cabeza, the results of the study are consistent with a theory about emotional processes in older adults proposed by Dr. Laura Carstensen at Stanford University, an expert in cognitive processing in old age.

"One thing we might do in the future is to ask subjects to try to actively regulate their emotions as they look at the pictures," St. Jacques said. "Would there be a shift in the neural networks for processing the negative pictures when we asked younger people to regulate their emotional responses? How would that affect their later recall of the negative pictures?"

Mary Jane Gore | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.duke.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Researchers identify cause of hereditary skeletal muscle disorder
22.02.2017 | Klinikum der Universität München

nachricht Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified
20.02.2017 | Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars

22.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers identify cause of hereditary skeletal muscle disorder

22.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

Positrons as a new tool for lithium ion battery research: Holes in the electrode

22.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>