Wise: Older people are less likely to be hot-headed
With age really DOES come wisdom: Scientists prove older people are less impulsiveBy Jenny Hope
According to their research, although the brain slows down with age, this simply helps older men and women develop greater insight.
The reason for this is that, unlike the young, the elderly's brains are not ruled by the chemicals that fuel emotion and impulse. So their slower responses really are more thoughtful and 'wiser'.
For their study, scientists looked at the brain scans of 3,000 Californians aged between 60 and 100.
These showed that what older people lose in reaction times, they make up for in better decision-making.
Professor Dilip Jeste, from the University of California at San Diego, said older people were less affected by dopamine, which helps signals pass between neurons and is involved in the reward system of the brain.
'The fact that older people are slower to respond than younger people is widely seen as a disadvantage. But that's not always the case.
The elderly brain is less dopamine- dependent, making people less impulsive and controlled by emotion.
'Older people are also less likely to respond thoughtlessly to negative emotional stimuli because their brains have slowed down compared to younger people.
'This, in fact is what we call wisdom,' he told the Royal College of Psychiatrists' international congress, in Edinburgh.
Brain scans had identified four brain regions that contribute to wisdom. The elderly have more activity in these regions than the young, which results in their wiser judgments, he added.
Scans also showed the brain never lost the ability to grow, which means grandparents have no excuse for not learning new skills.