Dr Stefanie Brassen, the author of a new study ageing gracefully and the ‘the positivity effect’, said there was: ‘a biased tendency towards and preference for positive, emotionally gratifying experiences’.
Brain engagement of young and older adults was neuro-imaged by German scientists, whilst performing a specialized task including irrelevant pictures of faces wearing either neutral, happy, sad or fearful expression.
According to the University Medical Centre’s statement, the elderly participants of the study appeared to be significantly distracted by happy faces, during parts of the task when they were not required to pay as much attention.
Scanning the brains of the participants showed an increased activity in the rostral anterior cingulate cortex, the part of the brain that helps control emotions. High levels of activity in this part of the brain are associated with good mental health.
John H. Krystal, editor of Biological Psychiatry, noted the lessons of healthy ageing through life, appear simillar to those of resilience.
Thus, the new research adds weight to the saying: ‘You’re only as old as you feel,’ , and those with a light-hearted, optimistic outlook on life, age best.
The scientists new theory goes a long way in explaining why some people’s good genes helps them maintain a sunny outlook and sharper mind in old age, when previously exercise and crosswords were cited as ways to keep the brain young.
However, scientists from the University of Hamburg in Germany have discovered, one can maintain good mental health by simply focusing the brain on positive thoughts and living for the moment, rather than looking far into the future.
by Arthur Furrowfield