Memory deteriorates proprtionally with age. An international team, led by Swinburne University of Technology, has carried out the study and found that the brain compensates with age when it comes to memory performance, the Brain and Cognition journal reported.
It is well known that as people age they experience a decline in memory performance. The findings showed that some changes in brain activity may reflect the brain’s effort to compensate for this decline.In the study, researchers investigated age-associated brain activity while performing memory tasks with varying levels of difficulty. It compared the results of male subjects aged 59-67 with male participants aged 20-30.
The simpler tasks assessed working memory and the more difficult tasks assessed short term recognition of visual images. All participants performed the tasks with a similar level of accuracy, but response times were slower for the older adults across all tasks. When the older adults performed an easy task there was a reduction in brain activity compared to younger adults. When they were performing a more difficult task there was an increase in brain activity compared to the younger adults.
The results also revealed that older and younger adults relied on different brain regions in order to perform the same old or new recognition judgement.‘At low task demands, such as simply remembering the shape of an irregular object, older adults don’t need to recruit additional neural resources in order to successfully complete the task. But with increased task difficulty such as recognising pictures of everyday objects and then making a contextual judgement about where these images were presented on a computer screen, more parts of the brain come into play.