Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Faces, places and perception

A Canadian brain-scanning study has shed new light on the differences in the way older and younger people process visual information. Researchers from the University of Toronto used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to compare brain activity in younger and older adults. The participants in the study were asked to look at pictures of overlapping faces and places, although they were told only to pay attention to the face and its gender. In the young adults the area of the brain responsible for processing faces was active but the one responsible for processing places wasn't; however, in older adults both regions were active suggesting that they had difficulty screening out the relevant information. But, in a memory test 10 minutes later, the older adults were better at remembering which face went with which building, so, from a less ageist perspective one could say that older people were better at seeing the bigger picture.

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