London: Want to feel young as you age?
Look on the bright side of life, say researchers.
A new study has found that people who age best have
a light-hearted, optimistic outlook on life, a finding which
offers a new theory on why some with good genes have a sunnier
outlook and sharper mind in old age.
The researchers at University of Hamburg in Germany
have discovered that simply focusing one`s brain on positive
thoughts, and living for the moment, rather than looking too
far into the future, can help maintain good mental health.
Lead researcher Dr Stefanie Brassen said
that successful ageing came down to "the positivity effect".
She said this was "a biased tendency towards and preference
for positive, emotionally gratifying experiences".
For their research, the researchers conducted an
experiment which saw young and elderly adults presented with
pictures of happy, sad, fearful or neutral faces.
During certain parts of the task when participants
were told they could relax, researchers noted that the elderly
subjects were much more engaged by the sight of a happy face,
a news source reported.
By scanning the brains of participants,
the researchers discovered increased activity in the rostral
anterior cingulate cortex, the part of the brain that controls
emotions. High levels of activity in this part of the brain
are associated with good mental health.
The study, published in a
journal, suggest that staying happy and focusing on life`s
positives are key to people remaining mentally alert as they
Dr John Krystal, the editor of Biological Psychiatry,
added: "The lessons of healthy ageing seem to be similar to
those of resilience throughout life."