Study Finds Aging Process May Not Affect Spatial Reasoning

Senior man plays chessThe aging process can be scary for people concerned about losing their cognitive abilities, and some people take it for granted that aging necessarily slows down brain function. According to a study that compared older adults to younger ones, though, at least one part of the brain might not be affected by the aging process. The study found that seniors don’t show deterioration in spatial reasoning skills. Spatial reasoning plays a key role in daily tasks, such as navigating a walk around the neighborhood, assembling furniture, and driving to work.

Aging and Spatial Reasoning

The study compared the spatial reasoning skills of 60 adults. Seniors aged 55 to 95 did just as well on tests of spatial reasoning as young adults aged 18 to 35. The researchers administered a variety of spatial attention tasks that did not require visual acuity, since changes in vision can affect the results of visual spatial reasoning tests.

The study’s authors point out that their results contradict popular theories that suggest that aging necessarily undermines all brain function. Instead, they emphasize that data on age-related cognitive decline has often focused on activity in the left hemisphere of the brain, which controls functions such as reaction time. Older adults typically see a decline in these functions as they age. Some cognitive systems in the right hemisphere of the brain, including those that control spatial reasoning, may be protected from age-related decline, though.

Protecting Brain Health

Although some brain areas may be protected from age-related decline, people worried about how aging might affect their brains can take several steps to minimize the cognitive effects of aging. Previous research has shown that the following steps may slow down brain aging: 

  • Keep your brain active by reading, doing puzzles, talking to loved ones, and performing other challenging tasks.
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and healthy fats such as avocados and nuts. Keep your diet low in cholesterol.
  • Stay physically active, getting at least some aerobic exercise every day.
  • Stay connected to others by working to maintain friendships and participating in social outings.
  • Find healthy ways to manage your stress, since chronic stress can harm your health and your brain.
  • Get seven to eight hours of sleep each night.

References:

  1. Brain health. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.alz.org/we_can_help_brain_health_maintain_your_brain.asp
  2. One part of the brain doesn’t age, study suggests. (20014, August 22). Retrieved from http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2014/08/22/one-part-of-the-brain-doesnt-age-study-suggests

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  • Leisel

    Leisel

    August 27th, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    There are a number of different ways that you can sort of fight against the aging process. I knwo that getting older is inevitable but theer are still things that you can begin doing now that will help to slow that decline as we get older. Exercise the body as well as the brain; eat right; get enough sleep; stay engaged in doing things that you love with the people in your life that you love. Getting old dows not have to always only be about doom and gloom.

  • ted f.

    ted f.

    August 27th, 2014 at 4:18 PM

    Would you agree or disagree that it is never too late to start trying to work some of this into your day?
    I know people who would say that they have waited too long to do anything and that nothing that they do now will be any help at all.
    I tend to disagree with that. I think that anytime you want to make some changes it is never too late to start trying and it is never too late to start working on something brand new.
    It could be overwhelming and it could be a little scary but it could also make a huge difference in your longevity and mental aptitude and if that is the case then I am willing to forever be trying something new to improve my overall health and general well being.

  • Margarte

    Margarte

    August 28th, 2014 at 10:35 AM

    Great to hear that all hope is not yet lost! ;)

  • Allan

    Allan

    August 29th, 2014 at 1:10 PM

    But what about the very clear fact that older people do indeed decline as they age and that this has to be based in large part on the aging process itself? Even those who seem to take the very best care of themselves tend to have problems and so I think that it is deceptive to say that this is not always the case.
    Of course it is not ALWAYS the case but more foten then not you will see that aging does indeed play a huge part in the general decline in the physical and mental capabilities of our older population.

  • willie

    willie

    August 31st, 2014 at 8:03 AM

    Nothing but doom and gloom is what all of my friends always talk about when we talk about getting older but I have to tell you that I have started taking care of myself and feel better than I did 30 years ago! I stopped smoking and go for a walk every day and that has made a huge diference in how I feel.I don’t know if it is adding years to my life or not and don’t care if I keep feeling like this

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