The 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.
- Brain health. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.alz.org/we_can_help_brain_health_maintain_your_brain.asp
- 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
© Copyright 2014 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.