Why older people are more easily distracted in conversation
Sometimes older people struggle with keeping up with a conversation because they can be easily distracted or wander off on a tangent.
New research has found that the reason older people are more prone to distraction is that they have more knowledge to share but are not always able to filter out what is most relevant at that moment.
Instead, you may find yourself in conversation with someone who ends of wandering far off topic or sharing unnecessary information.
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh conducted a study that found older people are not able to efficiently select the right information to share in conversation because there is an overflow of knowledge.
The results of the study were published in the journal eLife and could help reduce the risk of social isolation and depression among the elderly by improving our understanding of how aging affects cognition and communication.
For the study, the researchers analyzed speech samples from 60 participants ages 18 to over 80.
The participants were asked to speak about a given subject for one minute and the researchers later measured each participant’s coherence and ability to share the most relevant information.
The researchers also tested the thinking skills of the participants through different challenges that assessed vocabulary, knowledge, and ability to focus, according to the Daily Mail which reported on the new study.
Overall, the researchers discovered that people over 60 years of age were not as capable as 18 to 30-year-olds in sharing information.
According to the study results, older people have access to more information but are not efficient when it comes to selecting the most pertinent information for a given conversation. Instead, older people are more prone to wandering off topic or rambling.
“Having larger stores of knowledge to select from increases the challenge of staying on topic for older people,” Paul Hoffman, the lead author of the study, told the Daily Mail. “At the same time, they may experience age-related declines in the ability to suppress unnecessary information.”