Healthy aging would make us happier

Healthy aging would make us happier

THE ESSENTIAL

  • A depression disorder can occur at any age and affect anyone.
  • According to an Ipsos-FondaMental study carried out at the end of April 2020 among more than 69,000 French students, mental health is impaired for half of them.
  • 27% suffer from anxiety, 25% from stress, 16% from severe depression and 11% have suicidal thoughts.

Young people have more symptoms of anxiety, depression and loneliness than healthy people over 60, according to the results of a study published in the journal Psychology and Aging. They also have better mental well-being than adults in their twenties… Aging would therefore be good news!

Older people have better well-being

To achieve this result, the scientists assessed the mental health and cognitive performance of healthy adults: 62 were in their twenties while the other 54 were over 60 years old. “We wanted to better understand the interplay between cognition and mental health during aging, and whether they rely on the activation of similar or different brain areas.“, explains Jyoti Mishra, one of the authors.

Thus, the team of researchers observed that the performance of cognitive functions was lower in the elderly than in the youngest. Result obtained thanks to the measurement of the cerebral activity of the participants by electroencephalography (EEG). But these tests also showed that people over 60 did not use the same parts of the brain as younger people.

Cognitive performance depends on age…

The younger ones used the prefrontal cortex, part of the brain’s executive control system. However, this deteriorates with age, which explains why the results were not the same in adults over 60 years of age.

But among the seniors too there were differences. Those who performed less well used areas of the brain that are typically active when an individual is ruminating, daydreaming, thinking about the past or the future, but not when performing goal-oriented tasks.

…and the part of the brain used

In contrast, in older adults who had better cognitive performance, it was the lower frontal cortex that showed greater activity. This is an area that helps guide attention and avoid distractions.

These findings may provide new neurological markers to help monitor and mitigate aging-related cognitive decline, while simultaneously preserving well-being.“, underlines Jyoti Mishra. Indeed, the researchers believe that regular stimulation of the lower frontal cortex could therefore help maintain better cognitive performance in older adults… Which could help maintain their good mental health and therefore their well-being. -be.

Now, scientists are working on new therapeutic methods of brain stimulation. “We tend to think of people in their twenties as being at the peak of their cognitive performance, but it’s also a very stressful time in their lives, so when it comes to mental well-being, there may be things to learn from older adults”, concludes Jyoti Mishra.