It is commonly believed that one key issue in brain again is that it becomes less flexible - plastic - and that learning may therefore become more difficult.
A new study contradicts that and shows that plasticity did occur in seniors who learned a task well, it just occurred in a different part of the brain than in younger people.
When many older subjects learned a new visual task, the researchers found, they unexpectedly showed a significantly associated change in the white matter of the brain. White matter is the the brain's "wiring," or axons, sheathed in a material called myelin that can make transmission of signals more efficient. Younger learners, meanwhile, showed plasticity in the cortex, where neuroscientists expected to see it.