Posted on Thursday, December 06, 2012
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The Los Angeles Elder Abuse lawyers at Ehline Law Firm, PC warn there are reasons why the elderly fall prey to scams. Two recent studies show data that confirms as people age the brain changes and it is more difficult to detect individuals who are presenting a scam for financial benefits. (Learn more.)
UCLA Study Finds Elders Incapable of Noticing Visual Clues In Untrustworthy Photos
The most recent study was conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles, by Professor Shelley Taylor. During the study it was found that a part of the brain in the elderly reacts differently, than in younger individuals. This part of the brain is the anterior insula that changes as we age.
The study involved 119 elderly residents at a senior living center, who were between the ages of 55 and 84. It also included 24 younger staff members and students, who were between the ages of 20 and 42. Each group of participants were shown photos of neutral individuals and then photos of individuals, who were not trustworthy. These photos were of individuals with shifty appearances, facial hair, and smiling which did not reach the eyes. Both groups were equally rated on the neutral faces, however the elderly group was found to be incapable of noticing the visual clues in the untrustworthy photos.
Seniors More Gullible
Researchers then used 23 senior citizens and 24 of the younger group members to participate in another test, which involved the same photos, while being monitored inside of an MRI machine. This is where it was discovered that the younger group members anterior insula were extremely active, while this part of the brain in the senior citizen participants, was barely active.
This is a section of the brain that is where “gut reactions” are formed, the reaction of ill-ease feelings and stress, in ideas, places, people and in making difficult decisions. The UCLA researchers believe the lack of activity in the anterior insula is what prevents the elderly from picking up behaviors or signals in scams, which younger people may have no difficulty in discerning.
The other study, when added to the data of this recently released study, provides even more evidence that the brain changes as we age and can be a cause of poor choices in being scammed.
The second study data was released in August 2012 and conducted by researchers at the University of Iowa. This study involved the actions of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, (vmPFC). The study used three groups of patients, the first was a group of 18 patients that had damage to the vmPFC, the second was a group of 21 patients with brain damage injuries, but health vmPFC’s and the third was a group of 21 individuals with healthy brains.
The three groups were shown a series of advertisements, which had been determined by the Federal Trade Commission to be misleading. The patients that had damage to the vmPFC were twice as likely to believe the misleading advertisements, even if they had disclaimers concerning the validity of the information contained in the ads. This proved that this group would be more likely to purchase the items contained in the misleading advertisements, over the other groups.
The vmPFC is a section of the brain that is located above the eyes and controls emotions and behaviors, including impulse control, the ability to feel skepticism and doubt.
Michael P. Ehline, Esq.. and Ehline Law Firm PC attorneys believe this is information that the families of senior citizens should be aware of and the elderly adult. Elder abuse comes in all forms and this includes financial elder abuse in the form of scams and misleading advertising. Learn more by contact Ehline Law Firm PC at 633 W 5th St. #2890 Los Angeles, CA 90071. 213.596.9642.