Loss of visual perception may be a normal part of healthy aging, study shows

Lisa Wurth

July 26, 2011

A group of Italian scientists recently studied the relationship between aging and visual perception. Their research focused on Gestalt perception, which is the brain's ability to perceive a number of items as a single group.

In order to measure an aging adult's ability to see the big picture, study participants (young and old) were shown images of letters that had been formed using other letters or numbers. They were then asked whether they saw the smaller letters that made up the bigger one or the symbol as a whole, and older adults experienced more difficulty identifying the large letter.

The scientists found that younger adults have an easier time focusing on a singular item when multiple elements are present than older individuals. The y hope that their findings will assist further research into the understanding of cognitive impairment in healthy aging.

Cognitive impairment may lead to an increased risk of falling and injury in older adults, so a senior alert system may be a good idea for elderly individuals to protect themselves in case of an accident.