“For seniors who feel years younger than they really are, a new study suggests it might not be their imagination.
‘We found that people who feel younger have the structural characteristics of a younger brain,’ explained lead author Jeanyung Chey. She is a professor in the department of psychology & program for brain sciences at Seoul National University in South Korea.
Chey and her colleagues focused on a group of Korean adults drawn from an aging study. The researchers first conducted a health survey in 2014, which was followed by a second psychosocial survey in 2015.
All of the participants — who were 71, on average — also underwent neuropsychological assessments, followed by brain scans. None of the enrolled patients suffered from any neurological disorder or mental health impairment.
The brain scans revealed that seniors who reported feeling younger than their chronological age had more gray matter in key parts of their brain that typically tend to shrink as one ages. Shrinking gray matter is one sign of declining brain health, Chey noted.
‘People who felt younger than their age were [also] more likely to score higher on a memory test, considered their health to be better, and were less likely to report depressive symptoms,’ she added. The findings held true even after accounting for a wide range of factors, including an individual’s mental health status, sense of overall well-being, and/or history of depression.”