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Negative Emotions Affect Old and Young Differently

Negative emotions such as the fear of losing money affects young and old people differently, suggests a new study based on brain scans.

While scans showed more activity in the insula and caudate areas of the brain, which are involved in processing emotions, in young adults there was less activity seen among older people.

Gregory Larkin and colleagues at Stanford University in California compared the way people over 65 years responded to losing and winning to the reactions of those aged between 19 and 27.

Participants were shown cues telling them that they could either win or lose money. They had to rate their own excitement at the prospects while their brain activity was monitored using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the online edition of New Scientist reported.

However, when winning money, activity in the "emotion" area was the same regardless of age, says the study published in the latest issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Losing was not found to be such a problem for the elderly since those over 65 were less upset than the younger lot. But they were just as glad of winning, the scans suggest.


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