Old people rarely agree to do things that involve risk. Whether it is gambling or agreeing to a shoplifting dare, I assume no old person would engage in similar acts. For that, younger individuals may find seniors bland as they avoid the perilous path, but most of us think maybe it's because of their gained wisdom. But this recent research conducted by experts at Yale and New York University
, says old people may have declined risky behavior due to their diminishing grey matter in the brain.
Researchers gathered data involving adult volunteers with age 18 to 88. Participants were asked to play games that include risks. Some of the games are pocketing $5, and joining a lottery to earn or lose $5 and $120.
Researchers found that those who joined games that have guaranteed gain tended to be older.
Experts thought it was because of this "old-age wisdom". But when they performed brain scans using an MRI technique called voxel-based morphometry (VBM), they learned that rather than old age, risk aversion was actually due to lower levels of gray matter in the right posterior parietal cortex (rPPC).
“We found that if we use both the gray matter volume and age together as predictors of risk attitudes, the gray matter volume is significant, while age is not,” said associate professor of comparative medicine and neuroscience and one of the authors of study, Ifat Levy in an interview
. “This means that gray matter volume accounts for age-related changes in risk attitude more than age itself.”
If the brain's grey matter is behind our risky behavior, can we use this study in the future to control treacherous people such as criminals and bad grandpas?