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Psychol Aging. 2006 Dec;21(4):815-20.

The negativity bias is eliminated in older adults: age-related reduction in event-related brain potentials associated with evaluative categorization.

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Department of Psychology, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, USA.


Studies of younger adults have found that negative information has a stronger influence than positive information across a wide range of domains. T. A. Ito, J. T. Larsen, N. K. Smith, and J. T. Cacioppo (1998) reported that during evaluative categorization, extreme negative images produced greater brain activity than did equally extreme positive images in younger adults. Older adults have been reported to optimize affect and attend less to negative information. In this article, the negativity bias was examined in 20 older versus 20 younger adults during evaluative categorization, with a focus on brain activity occurring roughly 500 ms after presentation of visual stimuli. Results demonstrated a significant decrease in brain activity to both positive and negative stimuli (p < .05) and an elimination of the negativity bias in older adults.

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