Skip to main content

Being in a good mood may improve seniors' brain function

February 1, 2013

Maintaining cognitive function is a crucial component of healthy aging, and a new study suggests being in a good mood might have an impact on how seniors' brains operate. Researchers from Ohio State University and several other schools found that seniors who had even a small boost in mood performed better on decision making tests and working memory.

The study, which was published recently in the journal Cognition and Emotion, was focused on a small group of adults between 63 and 85. One segment of the participants experienced a small mood booster in the form of a thank you note and some candy while the other group received nothing. Later, the two groups were given a test measuring their decision making skills, and older adults who were put in the good mood tended to make better choices than the neutral group.

"Given the current concern about cognitive declines in the aged, our findings are important for showing how simple methods to improve mood can help improve cognitive functioning and decision performance in older adults, just like they do in younger people," said Ellen Peters, a professor of psychology at Ohio State. 

While the study used thank you notes and candy to help boost the mood of its participants, there are many other ways for older adults to positively impact their outlook, many of which fit the criteria of a healthy lifestyle for seniors. Physical activity has proven to be one of the best mood boosters there is, according to the Mayo Clinic. For starters, exercising releases feel-good brain chemicals that can help prevent depression and reduce anxiety. It can also help seniors gain confidence and improve their self esteem - two things that are sure to boost mood.