viernes, 24 de enero de 2014

Older Brains Know More and Use it Better as We Age

As we age, our brains go into a steady decline--at least according to previous research. Now, though, scientists have found that this isn't the case. Instead, the human brain works slower in old age because we have more stored information over time. (Photo : Flickr/DJ)

As we age, our brains go into a steady decline--at least according to previous research. Now, though, scientists have found that this isn't the case. Instead, the human brain works slower in old age because we have more stored information over time. The findings reveal a bit more about the human brain and the impacts of aging.

In order to learn a bit more why age affects the way we think, the researchers trained computers to read a certain amount each day and to learn new things. When the scientists allowed a computer to "read" only so much, its performance on cognitive tests resembled that of a young adult. Yet if the same computer was exposed to the experiences we might encounter over a lifetime, its performance looked like that of an older adult.

Yet the "older" computer wasn't slower because of its processing capacity. Instead, its increased "experience" caused the computer's database to grow and gave it more data to process. Needless to say, this processing took more time.

"Imagine someone who knows two people's birthdays and can recall them almost perfectly," said Michael Ramscar, one of the researchers, in a news release. "Would you really want to say that person has a better memory than a person who knows the birthdays of 2,000 people, but can 'only' match the right person to the right birthday nine times out of ten?"

The findings reveal that studies of the problems that older people have when it comes to recalling names may suffer from an unusual blind spot; there is a far greater variety that older people have to "sort" through, which makes recollection slower.

"Forget about forgetting," said Peter Hendrix, one of the researchers, in a news release. "If I wanted to get the computer to look like an older adult, I had to keep all the words it learned in memory and let them compete for attention."

The findings are published in the journal Topics in Cognitive Science.

ORIGINAL: Science World Report
Catherine Griffin
Jan 20, 2014

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