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Brain and Mental Performance

Training Could Help Seniors Stay Mentally Sharp

16 years, 6 months ago

1477  0
Posted on Nov 22, 2002, 5 a.m. By Bill Freeman

Results of a study by researchers at Duke University's Center for Cognitive Neuroscience have revealed that seniors who perform just as well as young adults on cognitive tests seem to be using the normally underused left half of the prefrontal cortex of their brain. Researchers led by Roberto Cabeza carried out the study in an attempt to gain better understanding of a phenomenon called "hemispheric asymmetry".

Results of a study by researchers at Duke University's Center for Cognitive Neuroscience have revealed that seniors who perform just as well as young adults on cognitive tests seem to be using the normally underused left half of the prefrontal cortex of their brain. Researchers led by Roberto Cabeza carried out the study in an attempt to gain better understanding of a phenomenon called "hemispheric asymmetry". Younger people tend to use the right frontal cortex of their brain to carry out certain types of cognitive tasks, however as people age they tend to lose this "hemispheric asymmetry" and use both the left and right frontal cortex of the brain. Why this should happen with age remains uncertain. Some neuroscientists support a "differentiation" theory, which suggests that a reduction in asymmetry occurs with age because the brain is less able to recruit specific neural mechanisms. Whereas, others support the "compensation" theory, which claims that asymmetry reduction occurs because the brain tries to compensate for reduced capacity in one hemisphere by recruiting the other hemisphere to help. Cabenza's findings suggest that the compensation theory may well be correct, and that it could be possible to develop methods to train seniors to use their left prefrontal cortex and therefore enhance their cognitive abilities.

SOURCE/REFERENCE: Reported by www.reutershealth.com on the 7th November

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