Brain function in elderly better during daytime

IANS| Last Updated: Aug 07, 2014, 14:30 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: A new study suggests that older adults are good at multi-tasking during daytime, be it learning a friend`s telephone number to conducting complex tasks such as reasoning, comprehension and learning.

It is a fact that the brain function in older adults may significantly decline due to ageing.

Researchers at Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences and University of Toronto have suggested that there are evident differences in brain function across the day for older adults.

Lead author of the study, John Anderson said, “Time of day really does matter when testing older adults. This age group is more focused and better able to ignore distraction in the morning than in the afternoon”.

In the study, 16 younger adults (aged 19-30) and 16 older adults (aged 60-82) participated in a series of memory tests during the afternoon from 1-5 p.m.

During the testing, participants' brains were scanned with fMRI which allows researchers to detect with great precision which areas of the brain are activated.

The fMRI data confirmed that older adults showed substantially less engagement of the attentional control areas of the brain compared to younger adults.

Older adults tested in the afternoon were "idling" - showing activations in the default mode (a set of regions that come online primarily when a person is resting or thinking about nothing in particular) indicating that perhaps they were having great difficulty focusing.

When 18 older adults were morning tested (8.30 a.m. - 10.30 a.m.) they performed noticeably better, according to two separate behavioural measures of inhibitory control.

The study appeared online in the journal Psychology and Aging.

(With Agency inputs)