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Tuesday, 21 January 2014 13:22

Old people have brains like an overstuffed computer

Written by Nick Farrell



Need a defrag

New research suggests that older people people do not decline mentally with age, it just takes them longer to recall facts because they have more information stored their brains. Doctor Michael Ramscar said that his research suggests that much like a computer struggles as the hard drive gets full up, so to do humans take longer to access information. Researchers say this slowing down it is not the same as cognitive decline.

A team at Tübingen University in Germany programmed a computer to read a certain amount each day and learn new words and commands. When the researchers let a computer “read” only so much, its performance on cognitive tests resembled that of a young adult.

But if the same computer was exposed to the experiences we might encounter over a lifetime – with reading simulated over decades – its performance now looked like that of an older adult, Ramscar said. Often it was slower, but not because its processing capacity had declined. Rather, increased “experience” had caused the computer’s database to grow, giving it more data to process – which takes time.

Nick Farrell

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