Navigation Links
Stress affects older adults more than young adults

Life can be stressful, whether you're an individual watching the stock market crash or a commuter stuck in traffic. A new study, forthcoming in the journal Psychological Science, examines how stress affects decision-making and finds that older adults alter their behavior more than young adults when under stress particularly in situations involving risk.

"People haven't looked at how stress affects decision making, even though so many of our decisions are made under stress," explained Mara Mather of USC Davis School of Gerontology, lead author of the study. "There's very little information about this whole topic, and, when you get to age differences, there's even less."

Mather and her colleagues Marissa Gorlick, of the USC Emotion and Cognition Lab, and Nichole Kryla-Lighthall, a USC doctoral student, exposed young adults (18 to 33) and older adults (65 to 89) to a stressful event, in this case, holding a hand in ice-cold water for three minutes.

Participants were then asked to play a driving game correlating to a real-life situation in which taking a small amount of risk is common: whether to go for it on a yellow light. Participants started at a green light, and points were awarded for every second spent driving during a yellow, but lost if the light turned red while driving. The length of time for the yellow lights was determined randomly.

In other words, Mather explained, participants had to decide to take some risk driving during a yellow light to score any points at all.

"This is the way life is, quite often. To make more money in your investments, you have to take risk. To end up dating someone, you have to take the risk of going up and saying hello," Mather said. "When there's a potential payoff, most of the time you have to take some risk."

In the control group, which was not exposed to ice-cold water, older adults were actually better drivers than younger adults, the researchers found, scoring higher on the game.

However, in the stressed group, older adults were not only more cautious but were also jerkier drivers, braking and restarting almost three times as much as their calmer peers.

The differences in the effects of stress were consistent even when the researchers accounted for gender, level of education, mood and health self-ratings.

"The everyday commute can be stressful: someone cuts you off, you're late already. Are you more likely to try and take a risk than if you weren't stressed out?" Mather asks. "Our results indicate that stress changes older adults' strategies."

The exposure to ice-cold water caused a rise in levels of the hormone cortisol, measured in saliva. Cortisol levels increased significantly (and about the amount) among stressed younger and older adults, but did not change significantly from pre-test levels for the control group, which was not exposed to ice-cold water.

As Mather explained: "The brain regions that are involved in and activated by stress overlap quite a lot with the brain regions that are involved in decision making and, in particular, in decisions about risk."


Contact: Suzanne Wu
University of Southern California

Related medicine news :

1. Large hormone dose may reduce risk of post-traumatic stress disorder
2. Exercise Can Help You Cope with Financial Stress and Heal Emotional Pain, Says Acclaimed Author and Psychotherapist
3. American Red Cross Offering Free Class to Help Military Families Cope With the Stress of Deployments
4. Protection for stressed-out bacteria identified
5. Prescriptions for Stress
6. UNC study: Parenting can override effect of genes in how babies respond to stress
7. Distinguishing Between Good and Bad Stress is Key for Leaders
8. National study finds post-traumatic stress disorder common among injured patients
9. Stress-Related and Emotional Eating Can Be Curbed With the Vitamin Code(TM) Perfect Weight Formula
10. Are You A Stress Eater? Revolutionary Program Reduces Overall Stress and Stress Eating Tendencies
11. Yerkes researchers create animal model of chronic stress
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/29/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... The Cyber Monday deal is a deep 40% or ... right time to get gifts for the skin care lover in your circle. Each ... serums . This year, the 3 serums are staples: Collagen, Retinol and Hyaluronic Serums. , ...
(Date:11/29/2015)... ... 29, 2015 , ... ProStatic Analog Distortion from Pixel Film ... for Final Cut Pro X. FCPX users can now apply distortion ... Destoying and creating chaotic distortion is now quick and simple, putting film makers ...
(Date:11/28/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 28, 2015 , ... Trying to ... has created the COUCH BUDDY. "I conceived of this design due to personal experience ... for couch users. It promotes relaxation and convenience, as well as increases support. It ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... 2015 , ... According to an article published November 6th by ... University of British Columbia suggested that laws requiring bicyclists to wear helmets may not ... of the reason for the controversial conclusion is that, while helmets have certainly prevented ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... 27, 2015 , ... "When I was traveling, I was ... N.J. "Many people catch diseases simply from sitting on such dirty toilet seats. ... from germs." , He developed the patent-pending QUDRATECS to eliminate the need to ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/29/2015)... 2015   National Decision Support Company (NDSC) continues ... including notable statewide implementations. As a result, ordering ... Select, more than 1 million times per month—all ... Select provides real-time feedback on the most appropriate ... been implemented at over 100 healthcare systems nationally, ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... 2015  Lannett Company, Inc. (NYSE: LCI ... acquisition of Kremers Urban Pharmaceuticals Inc. (KU), the ... company UCB S.A. (Euronext: UCB). ... KU from UCB for total consideration of approximately ... customary working capital adjustment, a deduction of certain ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... , Países Bajos, November 26, 2015 ... la terapia fotodinámica de Bremachlorin para el cáncer avanzado. ... la inmunoterapia con la terapia fotodinámica de Bremachlorin para ... Un nuevo enfoque combina la inmunoterapia con la terapia ... Clinical Cancer Research . --> ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: