Jeste and colleagues had older individuals without a history of psychiatric disorders complete multiple standardized self-report measures to assess how optimistic they were. The researchers then used fMRI imaging to examine the brains of the individuals while they viewed faces whose expression indicated fear—that is, processed negative information. They found that greater optimism was associated with reduced activation in the fusiform gyrus and frontal regions, even after taking potential confounding variables, such as cortical thickness and amygdala volume, into consideration.
These "findings have potential implications for the promotion of successful aging," Jeste and his colleagues stated in their study report. In brief, "Optimists may be relatively less fearful, particularly about the likelihood of negative events."
Strategies for remaining optimistic and engaged as one ages and the neuroscience of healthy aging are detailed in the American Psychiatric Publishing book Successful Cognitive and Emotional Aging, which was coauthored by Jeste.
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