London: Our brain slows down in old age making us less impulsive and driven by emotion. And this is when we gain wisdom, according to researchers.
American researchers conducted a series of studies on 3,000 people aged between 60 and 100 to find out what happens to the brain as it ages.
They found elderly people can still learn new abilities even as their brains are less dependent on `feel good` hormones making them appear less driven by emotion and impulsivity.
This in effect, is wisdom, the Royal College of Psychiatrists Congress in Edinburgh was told.
"The fact that older people are slower to respond than younger people is widely seen as a disadvantage. But that`s not always the case," a news daily quoted Professor Dilip Jeste of the University of California, San Diego, as saying.
He added, "The elderly brain is less dopamine-dependent, making people less impulsive and controlled by emotion. Older people also less likely to respond thoughtlessly to negative emotional stimuli because their brains have slowed down compared to younger people. This, in fact is what we call wisdom.
"MRI scans have also identified the four regions of the brain that contribute to wisdom, with older people demonstrating a higher level of activity between these regions than younger people."
Scans of elderly people`s brains also showed that their ability to learn new skills had not gone down despite their advancing age.
Professor Jeste said, "Probably the most exciting breakthrough in the last decade has been the finding that neuroplasticity, the ability to generate neurones and synapses, continues throughout an individual`s life."