Aging Increases Wisdom

by Rajshri on  June 14, 2008 at 3:10 PM Lifestyle News
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 Aging Increases Wisdom
Wisdom as far as emotional maturity is concerned does come with age, researchers have found.

Researcher at the University of Alberta and scientists from Duke University have identified brain patterns that help healthy older people regulate and control emotion better than their younger counterparts.

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Dr. Florin Dolcos, assistant professor of psychiatry and neuroscience in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, a member of the Alberta Cognitive Neuroscience Group, and his colleagues identified two regions in the brain that showed increased activity when participants over the age of 60 were shown standardized pictures of emotionally challenging situations.

"Previous studies have provided evidence that healthy older individuals have a positivity bias - they can actually manage how much attention they give to negative situations so they're less upset by them," Dr. Dolcos said.

"We didn't understand how the brain worked to give seniors this sense of perspective until now," he added.

During the study, researchers asked younger and older participants to rate the emotional content of standardized images as positive, neutral or negative, while their brain activity was monitored with a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine, a high-tech device that uses a large magnet to take pictures inside the brain.

The older participants rated the images as less negative than the younger participants.

The fMRI scans helped the research team observe this reaction in the senior participants.

After analysing the scans, researchers found increased interactions between the amygdala, a brain region involved in emotion detection, and the anterior cingulate cortex, a brain region involved in emotion control.

"These findings indicate that emotional control improves with aging, and that it's the increased interaction between these two brain regions that allows healthy seniors to control their emotional response so that they are less affected by upsetting situations," Dr. Dolcos said.

Dolcos said that this research might have clinical implications.

"If we can better understand how the brain works to create a positivity bias in older people, then we can apply this knowledge to better understand and treat mental health issues with a negativity bias, such as depression and anxiety disorders, in which patients have difficulty coping with emotionally challenging situations," he said.

The study is published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging.

Source: ANI

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It seems to me that aging is too often viewed from the outside. We are told about the signs of depression or dementia, how where to find economic advice, where to retire etc. I am more interested in the experience of aging - aging from the inside - as a new and unprecedented stage of personal growth. It's like adolescence - a lot is going on and it's all in the service of the growth of consciousness. I think of aging as an initiation into a new life stage, a transformation of self and consciousness, and a revelation of an amazing world we have been too busy to see in the middle years of work and family. When we consider the tasks and gifts of aging, extraordinary possibilities emerge that give new meaning to these years. Yes, there are losses but we they also make space for the expansion of consciousness. We elders are the harbingers of a new kind of awareness. Anyway, I'd like to hear more about how aging is changing people. It's not about overcoming age with creams and exercise and positive mental attitude, it's about being changed by aging. Everyday ten thousand people turn 65 and begin to notice things changing. It's the miracle of lifelong growth. What do you think? John Robinson []


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