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Old people get scammed because of brain changes, new study suggests

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles found that elderly people were not able to identify cons and scams as easily as younger people.

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A new study showed that older people are more vulnerable to scams because of changes in the brain. (Martin Hunter/Getty Images)

A new study suggests that older people are more prone to getting scammed because of changes occurring in the brain.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles found that elderly people were not able to identify cons and scams as easily as younger people.

The study showed that it was not because the seniors were raised in another, more peaceful era.

Rather, it was due to changes in brain activity in certain regions or lack thereof, said Reuters.

The team did several experiments to test old peoples' capacity to determine the shady from the harmless.

The first test saw old people asked to choose between trustworthy, neutral and untrustworthy people in photographs.

While younger people quickly identified the "untrustworthy" by appearance, old people were slow to see the clues, said NBC News.

The team also did the same test while participants' brains were being monitored by an MRI machine.

In young people, the brain region called the anterior insula lit up when there was something shady about a character in the pictures.

In older people there was hardly any activity at all, said Science Now.

"We saw that older adults didn't get the same level of insula activation that the younger ones did," said Shelley Taylor of the UCLA, according to Reuters.

"It should be telling them this looks risky, this looks iffy."

Indeed, scientists speculate that this region of the brain could degrade with age or neurons no longer fire properly.

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/health/121203/old-people-get-scammed-because-brain-changes-new-study-suggests