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Study Shows Older People Guess Weights More Inaccurately Than Younger People

As we grow older, we are less capable of correctly estimating differences in the of objects we lift, according to a study published in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Jessica Holmin and from and , respectively.

Previous studies have shown that aging is frequently associated with a decrease in muscle mass and consequently strength, making it more difficult to lift objects. As a result, often perceive weights they lift as being heavier than they actually are. In the current study, the authors took this one step further and assessed the ability of younger and older participants to accurately judge the ratio of two weights lifted in succession.

Participants in two age groups, 18-31 and 64-78 years old were asked to lift paired weights, picking up each weight individually, and then to provide a estimating how much heavier one object was than the other. For example, with 30g and 300g weights, the would be 10.

The researchers found that the older adults were much farther off the mark than the younger group, consistently estimating the weight ratios as much higher than they actually were. The authors suggest that their results may be useful for designing clinical tests to assess the effects of ageing on the brain.


Citation: Holmin JS, Norman JF (2012) Aging and Weight-Ratio Perception. PLoS ONE 7(10): e47701. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047701
Financial Disclosure: These authors have no support or funding to report.
Competing Interest Statement: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
Public Library of Science