London - Regrets We all have a few. But dwelling on what might have been makes for a miserable old age, a study suggests.
It revealed that regrets naturally decrease when we get older as people try to make the most of the time they have left and have fewer opportunities for second chances.
The research found younger people feel regret more deeply – an evolutionary tool to ensure they do not repeat mistakes.
The scientists used brain scans to test three groups – those with an average age of 25, a healthy older group and a depressed older group, both with an average age of 66.
All completed a computer game in which they had to open boxes containing either money or a cartoon of a devil – meaning they lost all the money they had made and the exercise ended.
After each box, the volunteers could decide to bank their money or carry on in search of more. When the game ended, they were shown how far they could have gone without losing it all. The study found the younger and the depressed older group were likely to take more risks and play more rounds.
At the same time, in the brain scans of the young and older depressed groups, the activity in their ventral striatum, which is involved in feeling regret, and the anterior cingulate cortex, where emotion is regulated, was similar.
However, the healthy pensioners’ brain activity suggested they were experiencing less regret and regulating their emotions more effectively.
The authors, of Hamburg University Medical Centre, said in the journal Science that because the opportunity to redress painful situations declines with age, feeling less regret could be a person’s way of maintaining their well-being.
However, little is known about the influence the brain has to play in this, they added. - Daily Mail