You're never too old to learn

Sep 14, 2009

Dr. Lixia Yang (above) and her co-author, Ralf Krampe of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Germany, found that seniors were able to retain 50 per cent of concepts they learned almost a year before.

That old saying, “your mind as is sharp as a steel trap”, seems to hold true for seniors well into their 80s, according to a new study by led by a Ryerson University researcher.

In a study published in the August issue of the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, Dr. Lixia Yang of Ryerson University and her co-author, Ralf Krampe of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Germany, found that seniors were able to retain 50 per cent of concepts they learned almost a year ago.

“This finding was astonishing,” says Dr. Yang, who is the study’s lead author and heads up the Cognitive Aging Lab at Ryerson’s Department of Psychology. “We always assumed that seniors would have great difficulty in grasping new concepts and maintaining what they’ve learned. But our research demonstrates this is not always the case.”

Forty-seven seniors in their 70s and 80s completed a series of tests that measured three areas that normally decline with age: reasoning, processing speed and visual attention. They then repeated the same tests eight months later in a follow-up study. For example, to test the older adults’ , one test involved finding “target” letters, like the letter “D” with dots above and below, among other letters with similar patterns as fast as possible.

“This study suggests that ’ minds are still sharp, and they can be productive members of the workplace, as long as they receive appropriate training,” says Dr. Yang.

Source: Ryerson University

Explore further: 'Experiential products' provide same happiness boost as experiences, study finds

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Seniors suffer from stereotyping

May 08, 2007

Seniors are being stereotyped as grouchy, inflexible types who live in nursing homes, when the opposite is true, a new University of Alberta report reveals.

Study: Chinese exercises good for seniors

Jun 28, 2006

University of Illinois scientists say they have confirmed previous studies, finding ancient Chinese exercises such as tai chi are good for older adults.

Recommended for you

What sign language teaches us about the brain

8 hours ago

The world's leading humanoid robot, ASIMO, has recently learnt sign language. The news of this breakthrough came just as I completed Level 1 of British Sign Language (I dare say it took me longer to master signing ...

Why do men prefer nice women?

8 hours ago

People's emotional reactions and desires in initial romantic encounters determine the fate of a potential relationship. Responsiveness may be one of those initial "sparks" necessary to fuel sexual desire and land a second ...

Study reveals how to be socially successful

9 hours ago

Romantic, personal and professional relationships are fraught with danger, but a University of Queensland researcher has found the secret to interacting successfully with others in such settings.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

paulthebassguy
not rated yet Sep 14, 2009
Perhaps the stereotype of oldies not being able to remember new concepts is due to their attitude instead of their ability. Many oldies can be stubborn and complacent with their existing knowledge, but if they are want to learn this article shows that they are able to.