Trial-and-error learning 'benefits older brains'

Posted on 24 August 2011

Older people paying for care should make an effort to learn in order to keep their brains sharp, new research has shown.

Research published in journal Psychology and Aging found that older brains benefit more from trial-and-error learning than younger minds.

Previous studies indicated that passive errorless learning was better suited to older people, as making mistakes while learning harms memory performance.

In the new study, participants were found to remember the learning context of words better if they had learned through trial-and-error, with older adults' performance improving 2.5 times more than their younger counterparts.

Lead investigator Andree-Ann Cyr, explained: "Our study has shown that if older adults are learning material that is very conceptual, where they can make a meaningful relationship between their errors and the correct information that they are supposed to remember, in those cases the errors can actually be quite beneficial for the learning process."

In other news, a study published in journal Neurobiology of Aging revealed that a high sodium diet and sedentary lifestyle could lead to a elevated risk of cognitive decline.

Posted by Nigel Murphy



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