Older jugglers prove elderly learn same as youngsters

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You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but an older adult is a different story altogether, according to new research from Germany.

A team of neurologists at the University of Hamburg conducted a study to determine seniors' ability to learn new skills as they age. Sixty-nine volunteers between the ages of 50 and 67 spent three months learning how to juggle. The older folks didn't learn as fast as the youngsters who participated in a similar study, but the ones who mastered juggling had the same changes and developments in their brains' gray matter as the younger subjects, according to the report.

The report points out that diminished hand-eye coordination later in life could impede the perfection of new ball-tossing skills. Still, researchers say their findings prove that the older brain is as adept at learning as its more youthful counterpart. The report appears in the July 7 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.