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By contrast, in older adults, the parahippocampal place area "lit up" indiscriminately when they felt stress, suggesting that they were unable to focus on one prominent stimulus.

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"Trying hard to complete a task increases emotional arousal," explains Mather, "so when younger adults try hard, this should increase their ability to ignore distracting information." Mather's previous research also tied the locus coeruleus to something else: Alzheimer's disease.But, in order to add an element of stress to the experiment, every now and again an announcement was made to the participants that they might receive an electric shock at the end of the exercise.At other times, though, an announcement would be made that no electric shock was forthcoming.Sadly, there is no cure for Alzheimer's, but some techniques and medications may help slow progression. Dementia is not a single condition, but a term that describes symptoms of impairment in memory, communication, and thinking.It is a feature of several common diseases and disorders.It was revealed that in the case of the younger participants, when the picture of a building was highlighted, the stress of expecting a shock actually increased brain activity in an area called the "parahippocampal place area." This brain region gets its name from the fact that it is activated when we look at places and map out spaces.

The same sort of brain activity decreased when they were shown unhighlighted images, indicating that the communication between the locus coeruleus, the parahippocampal place area, and the frontoparietal network — another brain structure tied to attention — ran smoothly, without any " The same did not hold true in the case of older study participants.

They did so using both brain scans and by assessing pupil dilation, which has been deemed a good indicator of locus coeruleus activity.

The tests consisted of showing the participants pairs of images: one featuring a building, and the other depicting a type of object.

Could this advance our understanding of Alzheimer's disease?

The "locus coeruleus" is a part of the brain stem that regulates the release of norepinephrine, a hormone linked to our level of attention and stress response.

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