Aging brains work harder to multitask
Recent studies have found that keeping up on exercise and performing cognitive activities may be beneficial in keeping the brain strong throughout aging. It is said that these activities can help prevent dementia and Alzheimer's disease, both associated with the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which controls mood, planning and complex cognitive activity. However, researchers have now found that, even with healthy brains, older people's minds have to work harder to perform multitasking operations.
The research, published in BMC Neuroscience, compared brain activity on single and dual tasks for young people (aged 21 to 25) and older people (over 65). The study used near infared spectroscopy measurements to track blood flow and the amount of oxygen being delivered to the brain while performing these tasks. For both the young and older groups, calculations increased the blood flowing to the brain, while physical tasks did not show the same effect.
The difference came when performing mental and physical tasks at the same time, as older people showed a more dramatic prefrontal cortex response than the younger people.