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Big Data techniques provide insights into aging brains

January 28, 2014
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
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Big Data techniques are providing insights into the human brain and how it functions as we age. Results of a recent study in Germany may cause you to look at residents in a new way.

Using computer models that simulate human performance in cognitive testing, Michael Ramscar, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Tuebingen found that cognitive performance may slow as we age, but not because our ability to process information has declined. Rather, because we accumulate more experiences as we age, it simply may take our brains longer to find specific information stored there.

Most standard cognitive measures are flawed, confusing increased knowledge for declining capacity, the researchers say.

"It is time we rethink what we mean by the aging mind before our false assumptions result in decisions and policies that marginalize the old or waste precious public resources to remediate problems that do not exist," say Wayne Gray and Thomas Hills, editors of Topics in Cognitive Science, where the study was published.

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