HealthDay News — For older adults, financial exploitation is associated with brain differences in regions associated with socioemotional functioning, according to a study published online in the Journals of Gerontology: Series A.

R. Nathan Spreng, PhD, from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and colleagues evaluated 13 financially exploited older adults and a matched cohort of 13 older adults who had been exposed to, but avoided, a potentially exploitative situation. Cortical thickness and resting state functional connectivity were examined using magnetic resonance imaging.

The researchers observed cortical thinning in anterior insula and posterior superior temporal cortices in the exploited group, which are regions associated with processing affective and social information, respectively. Reduced functional connectivity encompassing these regions was observed, within default and salience networks, while there was an increase in between network connectivity. The exploited group had higher self-reported anger and hostility.

“These exploratory and preliminary findings suggest that alterations in brain regions implicated in socioemotional functioning may be a marker of financial exploitation risk,” the authors write. “Large-scale, prospective studies are necessary to validate this neural mechanism, and develop predictive markers for use in clinical practice.”

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Spreng RN, Cassidy BN, Darboh BS, et al. Financial Exploitation Is Associated With Structural and Functional Brain Differences in Healthy Older Adults. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2017;