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Older adults equally capable of learning as younger students

March 12, 2013

Continuing education has become a popular aspect of a healthy lifestyle for seniors, and new research suggests that older adults are just as capable of picking up new information through test-taking as their younger counterparts. Scientists from the American Psychological Association found that older students who haven't been in school for decades retain their learning ability.

The study, published recently in the journal Psychology and Aging, looked at how adults between 55 and 65 performed on tests compared to younger participants between 18 and 25. The subjects were asked to take a multiple choice test once they studied several different subjects. After getting the results back, the subjects received feedback and eventually took the test again. Researchers found older adults increased their scores the second time - even more than the younger group.

"Both groups benefited from the initial testing more than the additional studying. Taking the test and then being told how many answers they got wrong or correct was enough for these adults to improve their memory of the material as shown in a final, more difficult, test," said lead author Ashley Meyer.

While the study authors recognize more research needs to be done to confirm their findings, the results may encourage seniors to head back to the classroom - a decision that can have a positive impact on healthy aging

Lifelong learning offers seniors a wide variety of benefits. There is a considerable amount of research that suggests mental activity of any kind, whether it be heading back to the classroom or participating in stimulating games, can have a significant impact on brain heath. In fact, scientists from Rush University found that even simple activities such as reading the newspaper had a positive impact on areas of the brain associated with memory and cognition.