- Thursday, 23 August 2012
Research has revealed that elderly people are more likely to be caught out by scams as they no longer have 'doubt'.
A study by the University of Lowa has found that the part of the brain that controls 'doubt and belief' starts to deteriorate at the age of 60.
Scientists claim that damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex leaves elderly people cheated out of money by scams that may appear obvious to others.
Researchers speaking to Science Daily said ''We suggest that vulnerability to misleading information, outright deception and fraud in older adults is the specific result of a deficit in the doubt process that is mediated by the ventromedial prefrontal cortex.''
Natalie Denburg, a professor in neurology who planned the tests added: ''The elderly believe the ads the most, demonstrating the highest purchase intention.
''Taken together, it makes them the most vulnerable to being deceived.'
The research examined a variety of patients in order to establish why some people are more gullible than others.
Evidence suggested that those with damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex had increased faith in others - making it easier to con them despite high levels of intelligence.
The ventromedial prefrontal cortex is nearly the size of a softball and sits at the front of the human head, directly above the eyes.
It is part of a larger area that controls a range of emotions and behaviour, from impulsive action to poor planning.
Researchers found that those with damage to the cortex were almost twice as likely to believe the advert, even when a disclaimer highlighted it as misleading.
Daniel Tranel, neurology and psychology professor at the university, said he hoped the findings would make people more sympathetic towards those who had been duped, and perhaps make them more protective of the elderly who are vulnerable to scams.
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