This might seem like a "no brainer," but now there's a study showing that seniors who are in a good mood may perform better on mental tasks that require more concentration and memory.
"There has been lots of research showing that younger adults are more creative and cognitively flexible when they are in a good mood. But because of the [mental] declines that come with aging, we weren't sure that a good mood would be able to help older adults," study co-author Ellen Peters, professor of psychology at Ohio State University, said in a prepared statement. "So these results are good news. There are ways for older adults to overcome some of the [mental] declines that come with aging"
The study involved 46 seniors age 63 to 85 years who were divided into two equal groups. The first group was given a thank you note and two bags of candy when they arrived for the thinking skill tests. Those computerized tests were done on a sky-blue background with smiling suns. Those in the other group did not receive either note of appreciation and performed their tests on more neutral images and nothing smiling back at them.
Participants were then given virtual quarters and a deck of cards to try and maximize winnings and minimize losses by remembering cards of highest value as they were revealed. The researchers noted they were looking to see how quickly the participants would learn which decks won them money and which ones didn't.
"The study revealed that the older adults whose spirits were lifted with a thank you note and candy performed much better at the decision-making test than the other participants," according to one published report.