Brain changes may hamper decision-Making in old age

Brain changes may hamper decision-Making in old age
But special training may slow the decline, researcher says.

(HealthDay) -- The ability to make decisions in new situations declines with age, apparently because of changes in the brain's white matter, a new imaging study says.

The researchers asked 25 adults, aged 21 to 85, to perform a learning task involving money and also undergo MRI brain scans.

They found that age-related declines in decision-making are associated with the weakening of two specific white-matter pathways that connect an area called the (located in the ) with two other areas deeper in the brain, called the thalamus and the .

The medial prefrontal cortex is involved in decision-making, the ventral striatum is involved in emotional and motivational aspects of behavior, and the thalamus is a highly connected relay center.

"The evidence that this decline in decision-making is associated with white-matter integrity suggests that there may be effective ways to intervene," study first author Gregory Samanez-Larkin, a postdoctoral fellow in Vanderbilt University's psychology department and Institute of Imaging Science in Nashville, Tenn., said in a university news release. "Several studies have shown that white-matter connections can be strengthened by specific forms of cognitive training."

The study was published April 11 in the .

Samanez-Larkin undertook this work while a graduate student at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif.

More information: The Society for Neuroscience explains how to keep your brain healthy as you age.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Source of cognitive decline in aging brains

Jan 07, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- As people age, memory and the ability to carry out tasks often decline. Scientists looking for ways to lessen that decline often have focused on the "gray matter" -- the cortical regions where high-level ...

Introspection linked to more gray matter in brain: study

Sep 16, 2010

A specific region of the brain appears to be larger in individuals who are good at turning their thoughts inward and reflecting upon their decisions, according to new research published in the journal Science. This a ...

Recommended for you

Link seen between seizures and migraines in the brain

7 hours ago

Seizures and migraines have always been considered separate physiological events in the brain, but now a team of engineers and neuroscientists looking at the brain from a physics viewpoint discovered a link ...

Neuroscience: Why scratching makes you itch more

13 hours ago

Turns out your mom was right: Scratching an itch only makes it worse. New research from scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis indicates that scratching causes the brain to release ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.