You're never too old to learn

September 14, 2009

Dr. Lixia Yang (above) and her co-author, Ralf Krampe of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Germany, found that seniors were able to retain 50 per cent of concepts they learned almost a year before.

That old saying, “your mind as is sharp as a steel trap”, seems to hold true for seniors well into their 80s, according to a new study by led by a Ryerson University researcher.

In a study published in the August issue of the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, Dr. Lixia Yang of Ryerson University and her co-author, Ralf Krampe of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Germany, found that seniors were able to retain 50 per cent of concepts they learned almost a year ago.

“This finding was astonishing,” says Dr. Yang, who is the study’s lead author and heads up the Cognitive Aging Lab at Ryerson’s Department of Psychology. “We always assumed that seniors would have great difficulty in grasping new concepts and maintaining what they’ve learned. But our research demonstrates this is not always the case.”

Forty-seven seniors in their 70s and 80s completed a series of tests that measured three areas that normally decline with age: reasoning, processing speed and visual attention. They then repeated the same tests eight months later in a follow-up study. For example, to test the older adults’ , one test involved finding “target” letters, like the letter “D” with dots above and below, among other letters with similar patterns as fast as possible.

“This study suggests that ’ minds are still sharp, and they can be productive members of the workplace, as long as they receive appropriate training,” says Dr. Yang.

Source: Ryerson University

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Game study not playing around with PTSD relief

May 26, 2017

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients wrestling with one of its main symptoms may find long-term relief beyond medication thanks to the work of a Western researcher.

Bouldering envisioned as new treatment for depression

May 25, 2017

A growing body of research suggests that bouldering, a form of rock climbing, can help build muscle and endurance while reducing stress—and a new study co-led by a University of Arizona doctoral student of psychology suggests ...

Study documents range of challenging meditation experiences

May 24, 2017

Meditation is increasingly being marketed as a treatment for conditions such as pain, depression, stress and addiction, and while many people achieve therapeutic goals, other meditators encounter a much broader range of experiences—sometimes ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

paulthebassguy
not rated yet Sep 14, 2009
Perhaps the stereotype of oldies not being able to remember new concepts is due to their attitude instead of their ability. Many oldies can be stubborn and complacent with their existing knowledge, but if they are want to learn this article shows that they are able to.

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.