Aging with itself brings the fading of some mental capabilities of a person. It can be visualization or related to the mind’s processing speed. But according to a new study, researchers claim that aging can also bring improvement in some other mental abilities like vocabulary and verbal comprehension. It shows getting older is not that bad when it relates to mental abilities.
Georgetown University Medical in its recent study found an increment in two of the critical mental skills that help aged people in better handling the new information. This study is based on some smaller research made earlier in which it had been told that aging may not guarantee cognitive decline but helps in improving cognitive aspects.
Neuroscientist Michael Ullman from Georgetown University says,
“These results are amazing and have important consequences for how we should view aging.
People have widely assumed that attention and executive functions decline with age, despite intriguing hints from some smaller-scale studies that raised questions about these assumptions. But the results from our large study indicate that critical elements of these abilities actually improve during aging, likely because we simply practice these skills throughout our life.”
Research tells that probably the increment in critical mental skills is to provide support to the brain abilities declination that comes naturally. The study was made on 702 people having ages between 58 to 98. As the most effect on cognitive changes happens in this range.
Participants who completed Attention Network Test (ANT), were shown the center arrow with two flanking arrows on the screen and a button to be pressed corresponding to the central arrow’s orientation as fast as they can. A number of clues flash on the screen before each arrow comes, either there can be no clue, a clue for incoming arrow, and a clue that hints where the next arrow can be.
Responses and controls for a variety of confounding factors were compared after which researchers found that older participants were not good at remaining alert in tests. They even did not respond to the time clue meant that they were not prepared for the next arrow.
When clues bring the brain’s attention to look at a particular point on the screen, older participants orient their attention quite well. Older people are also better at canceling. the distracting clues on the screen. It is a skill that increases up to 70 years of age.
Executive inhibition, alerting, and orienting are three major factors that are looked upon by researchers mainly. In these three factors “alerting” was observed getting worse with age, as this involves being prepared and alert for new data and information. While the other two orienting and executive inhibitions are improved with age which allows a person to have better decisions and self-control ability.
There is a need for further exploration of findings in this study. As orienting attention and inhibiting attention are skills that may increase lifelong as it makes sense that they would get stronger with aging.