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Perception Of Time Gets Warped Among Older Adults

Update Date: Dec 16, 2015 12:00 PM EST

Older adults have more problems in blending visual and aural stimuli, so it tends to warp their perception of time, according to a study by University of Waterloo.

"To make sense of the world around us, the brain has to rapidly decide whether to combine different sources of information," said Michael Barnett-Cowan, senior author, in a press release. "Older adults often experience problems processing multisensory information, which in turn can affect everyday tasks from following conversations, to driving, to maintaining balance."

This would impact the areas of research focusing on "rapid decision-making tasks", such as driving, among older adults. The order of events cannot be located immediately. Younger adults can determine whether light or sound presented simultaneously occurs first, while older adults find it more difficult to determine.

Hence, for the first time, scientists are testing the multiple ways in which adults of different ages can integrate sensory information in time. It might help scientists to find out how they can strengthen the link between brain processes, either through providing stimuli or video games.

"Health professionals are able to address many changes in our vision and hearing as we age using corrective lenses and hearing aids, for example. But these interventions don't help with changes in the brain's ability to combine sensory information," said Barnett-Cowan. "If we can identify and address impaired timing of events in the elderly, we could potentially improve the quality of life, safety and independence for many older people."

The study was published in the Oct. 16 issue of Experimental Brain Research.

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