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'Immortal' Region Discovered in Human Brain

Update Date: Aug 07, 2014 06:19 PM EDT
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Scientists have discovered a part of the human brain that enjoys eternal youth.

Researchers said the latest findings show that at least one part of the human brain stays cognitively intact, regardless of age.

The latest research involved 60 older and younger participants who were asked to respond to visual and non-visual stimuli. The point of the study was to measure participants' level of "spatial attention," which is essential for movements like picking up objects, using tools, driving and walking.

"Our studies have found that older and younger adults perform in a similar way on a range of visual and non-visual tasks that measure spatial attention," researcher Dr. Joanna Brooks, who conducted the study as a Visiting Research Fellow with the University of Adelaide's School of Psychology and the School of Medicine, said in a news release.

"Both younger (aged 18-38 years) and older (55-95 years) adults had the same responses for spatial attention tasks involving touch, sight or sound," she added.

"In one task, participants were asked to feel wooden objects whilst blindfolded and decide where the middle of the object was - participants' judgments were significantly biased towards the left-hand side of the true object centre. This bias is subtle but highly consistent," Brooks explained.

"When we think of aging, we think not just of the physical aspects but also the cognitive side of it, especially when it comes to issues such as reaction time, which is typically slower among older adults. However, our research suggests that certain types of cognitive systems in the right cerebral hemisphere - like spatial attention - are 'encapsulated' and may be protected from ageing," she added.

"Our results challenge current models of cognitive aging because they show that the right side of the brain remains dominant for spatial processing throughout the entire adult lifespan," Brooks said. "We now need to better understand how and why some areas of the brain seem to be more affected by aging than others."

Researchers believe the latest findings could provide some insight into neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.

The findings were recently presented at the 12th International Cognitive Neuroscience Conference in Brisbane.

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