Brain ‘finds it difficult to multitask as we get older’April 12th, 2011 - 6:43 pm ICT by ANI
Washington, April 12 (ANI): Older adults have a harder time multi-tasking than young adults because they have more difficulty switching their brain network between tasks, according to a new study.
Experts at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) showed that the brain’s capacity to ignore distractions, or irrelevant information, diminishes with age and that this, too, impacts working memory.
Researchers know that multitasking negatively impacts working memory in both young and older adults.
However, anecdotal accounts of “senior moments” - such as forgetting what one wanted to retrieve from the refrigerator after leaving the couch - combined with scientific studies conducted at UCSF and elsewhere indicate that the impact is greater in older people.
In the current study, researchers compared the working memory of healthy young men and women (mean age 24.5) and older men and women (mean age 69.1) in a visual memory test involving multitasking.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, the researchers tracked blood flow in the participants’ brains to identify the activity of neural circuits and networks.
Participants were asked to view a natural scene and maintain it in mind for 14.4 seconds.
Then, in the middle of the maintenance period, an interruption occurred: an image of a face popped up and participants were asked to determine its sex and age. They were then asked to recall the original scene.
As expected, older people had more difficulty maintaining the memory of the original image.
When the young and older adults were interrupted, their brains disengaged from a memory maintenance network and reallocated neural resources toward processing the interruption.
However, the younger adults re-established connection with the memory maintenance network following the interruption and disengaged from the interrupting image.
The older adults, on the other hand, failed both to disengage from the interruption and to re-establish the neural network associated with the disrupted memory.
“These results indicate that deficits in switching between functional brain networks underlie the impact of multitasking on working memory in older adults,” said lead author Wesley C. Clapp.
The finding is reported in the online early edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (ANI)
- Brain fitness program improves visual memory in older adults - Jul 15, 2010
- Chronic brain inflammation 'linked to memory loss in older adults' - Apr 14, 2011
- Research says that multitasking takes toll on old people's memory - Apr 11, 2011
- Slower brain speed behind elders communication problems - Apr 24, 2011
- Brain's ability to 'pay attention' diminishes with age - Nov 03, 2010
- A cluttered brain doesn't remember - Apr 20, 2011
- High risk factors for stroke linked to some cognitive decline - Apr 13, 2011
- Wonder why doctors leave scissors in gut? - Aug 01, 2012
- Inability to detect sarcasm, lies may be early sign of dementia - Apr 16, 2011
- Autistic brains 'focus more on visual skills' - Apr 05, 2011
- Why isn't the answer always on the tip of the tongue? - Jun 17, 2012
- Depression shows altered brain activity - Apr 04, 2012
- Cluttered memory halts older people from learning new things - Apr 20, 2011
- Higher levels of social activity cut the risk of developing disability in old age - Feb 18, 2011
- Brain 'network maps' reveal clue to mental decline in old age - Feb 09, 2011
Tags: anecdotal accounts, california san francisco, functional magnetic resonance, functional magnetic resonance imaging, harder time, magnetic resonance imaging, maintenance network, maintenance period, multi tasking, multitasking, neural circuits, older adults, older men, senior moments, study researchers, university of california san francisco, using functional magnetic resonance imaging, visual memory test, working memory, young adults