Positive attitude key to ageing successfully

July 15th, 2011 - 3:48 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 15 (IANS) Aging successfully has been linked with a preference for positive, emotionally gratifying experiences.

New research published in Biological Psychiatry now explains how and when this “positivity effect” works in the brain.

German scientists studied this effect by using neuro imaging to evaluate brain engagement in young and old adults while they performed a specialised cognitive task that included supposedly irrelevant pictures of either neutral, happy, sad or fearful faces.

During parts of the task when they did not have to pay as much attention, the elderly subjects were significantly more distracted by the happy faces, according to a University Medical Centre statement.

When this occurred, they had increased engagement in the part of the brain that helps control emotions. This stronger signal in the brain was correlated with those who showed the greatest emotional stability.

“We suggest that motivational goal-shifting in healthy aging leads to a self-regulated engagement in positive emotions even when this is not required by the setting,” explains Stefanie Brassen, University Medical Centre, Hamburg, Germany, who led the study.

“The lessons of healthy aging seem to be similar to those of resilience, throughout life,” noted John H. Krystal, editor of Biological Psychiatry.

–Indo-Asian News service

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