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

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

November 29, 2011
The more gray matter you have in the decision-making, thought-processing part of your brain, the better your ability to evaluate rewards and consequences. That may seem like an obvious conclusion, but a new study conducted ...

Neuroscientists identify how the brain works to select what we (want to) see

February 21, 2012
If you are looking for a particular object — say a yellow pencil — on a cluttered desk, how does your brain work to visually locate it?

Recommended for you

Research reveals atomic-level changes in ALS-linked protein

January 18, 2018
For the first time, researchers have described atom-by-atom changes in a family of proteins linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a group of brain disorders known as frontotemporal dementia and degenerative diseases ...

Fragile X finding shows normal neurons that interact poorly

January 18, 2018
Neurons in mice afflicted with the genetic defect that causes Fragile X syndrome (FXS) appear similar to those in healthy mice, but these neurons fail to interact normally, resulting in the long-known cognitive impairments, ...

How your brain remembers what you had for dinner last night

January 17, 2018
Confirming earlier computational models, researchers at University of California San Diego and UC San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in Arizona and Louisiana, report that episodic memories are encoded in the hippocampus ...

Recording a thought's fleeting trip through the brain

January 17, 2018
University of California, Berkeley neuroscientists have tracked the progress of a thought through the brain, showing clearly how the prefrontal cortex at the front of the brain coordinates activity to help us act in response ...

Midbrain 'start neurons' control whether we walk or run

January 17, 2018
Locomotion comprises the most fundamental movements we perform. It is a complex sequence from initiating the first step, to stopping when we reach our goal. At the same time, locomotion is executed at different speeds to ...

Miles Davis is not Mozart: The brains of jazz and classical pianists work differently

January 16, 2018
Keith Jarret, world-famous jazz pianist, once answered in an interview when asked if he would ever be interested in doing a concert where he would play both jazz and classical music: "No, that's hilarious. [...] It's like ...

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.