How our brain slows down the effects of aging

Original Publication: Neuropsychologia
Published: 13 September 2016

The older we get, the more difficult it becomes to put the world around us in order. Yet our
brain develops remarkable strategies to slow down the effects of aging.

Brain waves and gaze direction offer insights

In order to process the information that we receive every day, we build categories into which we
sort everything that makes up the world around us.

Brain compensates with attentiveness

There are two main strategies which we use to categorise things. While we perceive similar
looking members of a category holistically, we must specifically learn exceptions and memorise them and older people find it harder to switch from one strategy to the other. Measurements of brain waves also showed that the elderly develop a particular selective attentiveness and pay more attention to the details and look more closely than younger people.

To a certain extent, the brain is able to slow down negative effects of aging by increasing its level of attentiveness.

Study Recommendation

A computer simulation at Canada’s University of Western Ontario confirmed the results of the scientists in Bochum. In a next step the RUB team would like to test people whose attention level has been especially trained, like that of avid computer players. If these gamers do particularly well in the categorisation task, then the results may help the elderly specifically train their attentiveness. Maybe we should all take up gaming categorization? Not clear yet but food for thought!

What can I do?

Keep eating a healthy diet rich in nutrients for the brain

Keep exercising to boost brain function

16 tips to boost brain performance

Contact Information

Prof. Dr. Boris Suchan Department of Clinical Neuropsychology Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience Faculty of Psychology Ruhr University Bochum Tel: 0234 32 27575 E-Mail:


Sabrina Schenk, John P. Minda, Robert K. Lech, Boris Suchan (2016): Out of sight, out of mind: Categorization learning and normal aging, Neuropsychologia. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2016.08.013.


Sabrina Schenk John P. Minda Robert K. Lech Boris Suchan

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