Brain changes may hamper decision-Making in old age

April 17, 2012
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.

Explore further: Gray matter in brain's control center linked to ability to process reward

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

Related Stories

Recommended for you

A virtual brain helps decrypt epilepsy

July 29, 2016

Researchers at CNRS, INSERM, Aix-Marseille University and AP-HM have just created a virtual brain that can reconstitute the brain of a person affected by epilepsy for the first time. From this work we understand better how ...

The brain's super-sensitivity to curbs

July 27, 2016

Humans rely on boundaries like walls and curbs for navigation, and Johns Hopkins University researchers have pinpointed the areas of the brain most sensitive to even the tiniest borders.

0 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.