In a study published in the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, Lixia Yang, MD of Ryerson University and her co-author, Ralf Krampe of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Germany, found that seniors were able to retain 50% of concepts they learned 8 months earlier.
“This finding was astonishing,” Yang, the study’s lead author, said in a press release. “We always assumed that seniors would have great difficulty in grasping new concepts and maintaining what they have learned. But our research demonstrates this is not always the case.”
Forty-seven seniors in their 70s and 80s completed a series of tests that measured three areas that normally decline with age: reasoning, processing speed and visual attention. They then repeated the same tests 8 months later in a follow-up study. To test the older adults’ visual attention, one test involved finding “target” letters, like the letter “D” with dots above and below, among other letters with similar patterns as fast as possible.
“This study suggests that seniors’ minds are still sharp and they can be productive members of the workplace, as long as they receive appropriate training,” Yang said.