Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in Grumpy Old Men
Contrary to popular belief, men do not become more grumpy with age, new research suggests. Rants by the likes of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in the movie Grumpy Old Men might suggest otherwise, but a study suggests it is younger people who have a more negative outlook on life.
Despite the curmudgeonly stereotype cultivated by Victor Meldrew in the BBC sitcom One Foot in the Grave, scientists found that older people view the world through rose-tinted spectacles, remembering the good times rather than the bad.
Researchers asked groups of 19 to 31-year-olds and 61 to 80-year-olds to view a series of photographs while analysing their brains’ activity.
Some of the images were of happy moments, such as a victorious skier, while others conveyed darker themes such as a wounded soldier.
The subjects were then asked to remember as many of the pictures as they could.
By studying their brain scans, the research team from the University of Auckland found that the old and young processed the happy images differently.
They found that in older people, there were stronger connections between regions of the brain that process emotions and those known to be important for forming memories. The trend was particularly strong for processing positive information.
Among the younger group, the link was found to be much weaker.
Meanwhile, ageing was found not to affect the connectivity between regions during memory formation of the negative photographs.
The results suggest that older people are much more likely to remember happy moments than their younger counterparts, the journal Cortex reports.