Neural and behavioral bases of age differences in perceptions of trust.

TitleNeural and behavioral bases of age differences in perceptions of trust.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsCastle E, Eisenberger NI, Seeman TE, Moons WG, Boggero IA, Grinblatt MS, Taylor SE
JournalProc Natl Acad Sci U S A
Date Published2012 Dec 18
KeywordsAdult, Age Factors, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Amygdala, Behavior, Brain Mapping, Emotions, Humans, Limbic System, Middle Aged, Neuroimaging, Perception, Risk, Trust, Young Adult

Older adults are disproportionately vulnerable to fraud, and federal agencies have speculated that excessive trust explains their greater vulnerability. Two studies, one behavioral and one using neuroimaging methodology, identified age differences in trust and their neural underpinnings. Older and younger adults rated faces high in trust cues similarly, but older adults perceived faces with cues to untrustworthiness to be significantly more trustworthy and approachable than younger adults. This age-related pattern was mirrored in neural activation to cues of trustworthiness. Whereas younger adults showed greater anterior insula activation to untrustworthy versus trustworthy faces, older adults showed muted activation of the anterior insula to untrustworthy faces. The insula has been shown to support interoceptive awareness that forms the basis of "gut feelings," which represent expected risk and predict risk-avoidant behavior. Thus, a diminished "gut" response to cues of untrustworthiness may partially underlie older adults' vulnerability to fraud.

Alternate JournalProc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.
PubMed ID23213232
PubMed Central IDPMC3529090
Grant List1RC4AG038182-01 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
AG030309 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
P30 AG028748 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
P30AG028748 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States