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Mood & Brainpower Roundup

February 8, 2013

Mood can affect older adults’ performance on cognitive tests.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Mood and brainpower. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Older adults performed better in cognitive tests if they were put in a good mood, according to a report in the journal Cognition and Emotion. Researchers recruited forty-six volunteers between 63 and 85 years old. Half of them received thank you cards and candy before taking the test, which involved playing a game that required decision making skills. Those that had received the gifts performed substantially better than the others.

In other brain research, a study of empathy found a U-shaped pattern when it comes to age: middle-aged people were more likely to react emotionally to the experiences of others than those who were younger or older. Overall, women in their 50s showed the most empathy. It’s not yet clear whether that’s related to biology, or cultural and social factors related to growing up in the 1950s and 60s. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the Science Society.