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January 17th, 2008 at 8:30 am

Brain Changes Make the Elderly More Gullible

Some elderly adults may be more susceptible to fraud because of changes in
their brain that affect judgment and decision-making, researchers said on

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In a series of tests
they tried to identify common traits among seniors who had difficulty making
decisions and spotting anything misleading to determine what makes them
vulnerable to deception.


research suggests that elders who fall prey to fraudulent advertising are not
simply gullible, depressed, lonely or less intelligent. Rather, it is truly more
of a medical or neurological problem," said Natalie Denburg, a neuroscientist at
the University of Iowa.

work sheds new light on this problem and perhaps may lead to a way to identify
people at risk of being deceived," she added. Denburg and her colleagues studied
80 healthy seniors with no apparent neurological problems to see how they make
decisions. Their findings were published in the Annals of the New York Academy
of Sciences.

Up to 40% of the
seniors performed poorly in a computerized decision-making test.

The same sub-group was also
less likely than other adults to detect misleading advertising and they showed
abnormal bodily responses, such as sweating, while making decisions. "Our
hypothesis is that older poor decision-makers have deficits in their prefrontal
cortex," she explained.

Via Times of India


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