The Good News about Getting Old

By Kevin LaRose | March 1, 2009 | 0 comments

Good news for those approaching their twilight years: Research suggests that as we age, our brains start to tune out "negative stimuli," allowing us to focus on the more positive aspects of life.

In a study, published in a recent issue of the journal Psychological Science, participants were hooked up to fMRI machines as they viewed a series of photos—some upsetting (snakes, crashes, etc.) and some banal (plants, buildings etc.). They were then asked to recall and describe the photos they had just seen.

While both young and old participants remembered more negative photos than neutral ones, the fMRI scans showed that the older participants' brains were responding differently then the younger ones, possibly indicating stronger "emotional regulation" of the negative images. The older participants seemed to have developed a buffer of sorts against painful stimuli that was lacking in the younger participants.

"Emotional well-being seems to be one area where older adults actually show improvements rather than decline," says Peggy St. Jacques, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University and one of the study's authors. St. Jacques adds that understanding how older adults process emotional events could have practical implications for helping those with afflictions such as geriatric depression and Alzheimer's disease.

This isn't the only research being done on the senior brain. The Wall Street Journal recently reported on several studies exploring why older people are more easily driven to distraction. These studies will become dramatically more important as Baby Boomers age, and more people over 60 will be looking to stay competitive with a young workforce.

Tracker Pixel for Entry
 
 
 

Greater Good wants to know:
Do you think this article will influence your opinions or behavior?

  • Very Likely

  • Likely

  • Unlikely

  • Very Unlikely

  • Not sure

 
  

Like this article?

Here's what you can do:

Donate
 
  
 
blog comments powered by Disqus
 

Most...

  
  

Greater Good Events

Mindful Self-Compassion: Core Skills Training
International House
December 9-10, 2016


Mindful Self-Compassion: Core Skills Training

This workshop is an introduction to Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC), an empirically-supported training program based on the pioneering research of Kristin Neff and the clinical perspective of Chris Germer.


» ALL EVENTS
 
 

Take a Greater Good Quiz!

How compassionate are you? How generous, grateful, or forgiving? Find out!

» TAKE A QUIZ
 

Watch Greater Good Videos

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Talks by inspiring speakers like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dacher Keltner, and Barbara Fredrickson.

Watch
 

Greater Good Resources

 
 
» MORE STUDIES
 
 
» MORE ORGS
 

Book of the Week

How Pleasure Works By Paul Bloom Bloom explores a broad range of human pleasures from food to sex to religion to music. Bloom argues that human pleasure is not purely an instinctive, superficial, sensory reaction; it has a hidden depth and complexity.

» READ MORE
 
Is she flirting with you? Take the quiz and find out.
"It is a great good and a great gift, this Greater Good. I bow to you for your efforts to bring these uplifting and illuminating expressions of humanity, grounded in good science, to the attention of us all."  
Jon Kabat-Zinn

Best-selling author and founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program

thnx advertisement