The “felt” age may reflect the true age of your brain +++ Das “gefühlte” Alter kann das wahre Alter des Gehirns widerspiegeln

New research shows that people who feel younger have the structural characteristics of a younger brain

Recent research by a team of researchers of the Seoul National University in Korea demonstrates that people’s “subjective age” — rather than their objective age — accurately predicts how young a brain really looks.

As people get older, their bodies will go through many changes. As for the brain, it also has a range of specific age-related signs that show that mental agility may start to decline.

The researchers Seyul Kwak, Hairin Kim, Jeanyung Chey and Yoosik Youm used MRI to detect signs of aging in the brains of 68 healthy people aged 59–84. They also used age-prediction modeling techniques to examine the changes in the participants’ gray matter volume. All study participants filled in a survey that asked them to answer questions about how young they felt.

The scientists conclude: “Our findings suggest that subjective experience of aging is closely related to the process of brain aging and underscores the neurobiological mechanisms of [subjective age] as an important marker of late-life neurocognitive health.”

In short: People who feel younger have the structural characteristics of a younger brain.

The researchers explain that this difference remains robust even when other possible factors, including personality, subjective health, depressive symptoms, or cognitive functions, are accounted for.

However, the processes behind this surprising link remain largely unexplained. The scientists suggest that, in what seems like a positive “self-fulfilling prophecy,” people who feel younger tend to engage in more physically and intellectually stimulating activities. On the other hand, if this is true, the opposite might happen to those who feel older.

Neue Studien zeigen, dass Menschen, die sich jünger fühlen, strukturelle Merkmale eines jüngeren Gehirns haben

Jüngste Forschungen eines Teams von Forschern der Seoul National University in Korea zeigen, dass das “subjektive Alter” der Menschen – und nicht ihr objektives Alter – genau vorhersagt, wie jung ein Gehirn wirklich aussieht.

Wenn Menschen älter werden, durchlaufen ihre Körper viele Veränderungen. Was das Gehirn betrifft, so gibt es auch eine Reihe spezifischer altersbezogener Anzeichen, die zeigen, dass die geistige Beweglichkeit abzunehmen beginnt.

Die Forscher Seyul Kwak, Hairin Kim, Jeanyung Chey und Yoosik Youm nutzten MRT, um Anzeichen von Alterung in den Gehirnen von 68 gesunden Menschen im Alter von 59 bis 84 Jahren zu erkennen. Sie verwendeten auch Altersprädiktions-Modellierungsverfahren, um die Veränderungen im Volumen der grauen Substanz der Teilnehmer zu untersuchen. Alle Studienteilnehmer füllten einen Fragebogen aus, der sie aufforderte, Fragen darüber zu beantworten, wie jung sie sich fühlten.

Die Wissenschaftler schließen daraus: “Unsere Ergebnisse legen nahe, dass die subjektive Erfahrung des Alterns eng mit dem Prozess des Alterns des Gehirns verbunden ist und die neurobiologischen Mechanismen des [subjektiven Alters] als wichtigen Marker der neurokognitiven Gesundheit des späten Lebens unterstreicht.”

Kurz gesagt: Menschen, die sich jünger fühlen, haben die strukturellen Merkmale eines jüngeren Gehirns.

Die Forscher erklären, dass dieser Unterschied robust bleibt, auch wenn andere mögliche Faktoren wie Persönlichkeit, subjektive Gesundheit, depressive Symptome oder kognitive Funktionen berücksichtigt werden.

Die Prozesse hinter dieser überraschenden Verbindung bleiben jedoch weitgehend ungeklärt. Die Wissenschaftler vermuten, dass Menschen, die sich jünger fühlen, in einer scheinbar positiven “sich selbst erfüllenden Prophezeiung” körperlich und intellektuell stimulierende Aktivitäten ausüben. Wenn das stimmt könnte das Gegenteil passieren, wenn Menschen sich älter fühlen.

Original Research Article published by:

Kwak, S., Kim, H., Chey, J., & Youm, Y. (2018). Feeling How Old I Am: Subjective Age Is Associated With Estimated Brain Age. Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 10, 168.

Health and Wellbeing: Active Ageing for Older Adults in Ireland

Evidence from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing

TILDA (The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing)  researches the impact on the health and well-being of Ireland’s adult population aged 54 years and over and maps changes that have occurred since the first wave of TILDA data collection in 2010. Potent factors which influence health and well-being are volunteering, caring, financial transfers, health insurance coverage, health care utilisation, health screening, diet, medication use and prophylaxis such as vaccination uptake.

Key Findings

Older adults in Ireland contribute to and benefit from their extended family and the communities in which they live.

  • Within the last two years, one quarter of adults in Ireland aged 54 years and over with living parents assisted their parent(s) with basic personal care while 43% provided help with other activities such as household chores, errands, shopping, and transportation. Half of older adults also provided financial help to their parent(s).
  • The majority of children remain geographically close to their parents: Two thirds of adults aged 54 years and over have children either living with them or in the same county.
  • Older adults in Ireland who have children are more likely to provide financial assistance to their children (48%) than receive financial help from them (3%).
  •  Half (47%) of adults aged 54 to 64 years and 65 to 74 years (51%) provide regular childcare for their grandchildren for an average of 36 hours per month. Quality of life is higher in those who care regularly for their grandchildren.
  • More than half (53%) of older adults in Ireland volunteered at some time during the previous year with 17% doing so at least once per week. Retired adults and those with higher levels of educational attainment are more likely to do so. Frequent volunteering is associated with better quality of life and fewer depressive  symptoms.
  •  Sixty percent of the older population take part in active and social leisure activities at least once per week, while 47% are involved in formal organisations, such as sports or social clubs. Social participation is associated with better quality of life and fewer depressive symptoms, however levels of participation decrease with age.