Some areas of brain may remain youthful in old age

Melbourne: Challenging current models of brain ageing, researchers have found that some areas of the brain may remain youthful even in older age.

When it comes to spatial attention skills, older people can do just as good as the younger ones, the findings showed.

Spatial attention is critical for many aspects of life - from driving to walking, to picking up and using objects.

"Our studies have found that older and younger adults perform in a similar way on a range of visual and non-visual tasks that measure spatial attention," said Joanna Brooks, a research fellow at Australian National University.

For the study, researchers compared the ability of 60 older and younger people to respond to visual and non-visual stimuli in order to measure their spatial attention skills.

"Both younger (aged 18-38 years) and older (55-95 years) adults had the same responses for spatial attention tasks involving touch, sight or sound,” Brooks added.

The research suggests that certain types of cognitive systems in the right cerebral hemisphere - like spatial attention - are 'encapsulated' and may be protected from ageing, she noted.

"Our results challenge current models of cognitive ageing because they show that the right side of the brain remains dominant for spatial processing throughout the entire adult lifespan," Brooks added.

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