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Published by Chhaya
health, age
health, age

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Published by: Chhaya on Nov 13, 2013
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11/13/2013

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Can't make a simple decision? It could be your AGE: Older people find it difficult to make choices and take less risks
 
Scientists have long known that cognitive function improves during adolescence, peaks in adulthood and declines as we age
 
 
Now have linked age to our decision-making skills in uncertain situations
 
 
Even elderly people who were in peak health experienced significant difficulties when presented with choices
 
When faced with uncertain situations, people are less able to make decisions as they age, according to U.S. scientists
When faced with uncertain situations, people are less able to make decisions as they age, according to U.S. scientists.
 
The research also found that older people are more risk-averse than their midlife counterparts when choosing between possible gains, but more risk-seeking when choosing between losses. Scientists have long observed that cognitive function improves throughout adolescence, peaks in adulthood, and declines with age, but behavioral changes in decision-making across a lifespan have been largely unstudied. Scientists at Yale School of Medicine, whose work was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said these skills have implications for problems associated with poor decision-making.
 
Ifat Levy, assistant professor in comparative medicine and neurobiology at Yale, recruited 135 healthy participants to study how decision-making functions change across a lifespan by measuring attitudes toward risk and ambiguity in  people between the ages of 12 and 90. The participants made 320 choices grouped in blocks of gain and loss trials. In gain trials, participants chose between a certain gain of $5 and a lottery that differed systematically in the amount of a possible monetary gain. Loss trials were identical to gain trials, except all amounts were negative. In one example, a participant faced a choice between losing $5 for certain, and equal chances of losing $8 or losing nothing ($0).
 
 The research also found that older people are more risk-averse than their midlife counterparts when choosing between possible gains, but more risk-seeking when choosing between losses
This design allowed Dr Levy and her team to estimate attitudes to both known (risky) and unknown (ambiguous) financial risks. By repeating each choice situation several times, the design also allowed the investigators to estimate how consistent the participants were in the choices they made. On average, older adults made decisions that resulted in the lowest expected monetary outcomes, compared with midlife participants. Even the healthiest members of the older age group showed profoundly compromised decision-making.

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