Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Seeing the glass as half full: Taking a new look at cognition and aging

Date:
July 16, 2014
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
From a cognitive perspective, aging is typically associated with decline. But the news isn't all bad when it comes to cognitive aging, according to new articles recently published. Researchers show how several factors -- including motivation and crystallized knowledge -- can play important roles in supporting and maintaining cognitive function in the decades past middle age.

From a cognitive perspective, aging is typically associated with decline. As we age, it may get harder to remember names and dates, and it may take us longer to come up with the right answer to a question.

But the news isn't all bad when it comes to cognitive aging, according to a set of three articles in the July 2014 issue of Perspectives in Psychological Science.

Plumbing the depths of the available scientific literature, the authors of the three articles show how several factors -- including motivation and crystallized knowledge -- can play important roles in supporting and maintaining cognitive function in the decades past middle age.

Motivation Matters

Lab data offer evidence of age-related declines in cognitive function, but many older adults appear to function quite well in their everyday lives. Psychological scientist Thomas Hess of North Carolina State University sets forth a motivational framework of "selective engagement" to explain this apparent contradiction.

If the cognitive cost of engaging in difficult tasks increases as we age, older adults may be less motivated to expend limited cognitive resources on difficult tasks or on tasks that are not personally relevant to them. This selectivity, Hess argues, may allow older adults to improve performance on the tasks they do choose to engage in, thereby helping to account for inconsistencies between lab-based and real-world data.

Prior Knowledge Brings Both Costs and Benefits

Episodic memory -- memory for the events of our day-to-day lives -- seems to decline with age, while memory for general knowledge does not. Researchers Sharda Umanath and Elizabeth Marsh of Duke University review evidence suggesting that older adults use prior knowledge to fill in gaps caused by failures of episodic memory, in ways that can both hurt and help overall cognitive performance. While reliance on prior knowledge can make it difficult to inhibit past information when learning new information, it can also make older adults more resistant to learning new erroneous information.

According to Umanath and Marsh, future research should focus on better understanding this compensatory mechanism and whether it can be harnessed in developing cognitive interventions and tools.

Older Adults Aren't Necessarily Besieged By Fraud

Popular writers and academics alike often argue that older adults, due to certain cognitive differences, are especially susceptible to consumer fraud. Psychological scientists Michael Ross, Igor Grossmann, and Emily Schryer of the University of Waterloo in Canada review the available data to examine whether incidences of consumer fraud are actually higher among older adults. While there isn't much research that directly answers this question, the research that does exist suggests that older adults may be less frequent victims than other age groups.

Ross, Grossmann, and Schryer find no evidence that older adults are actually more vulnerable to fraud, and they argue that anti-fraud policies should be aimed at protecting consumers of all ages.

The journal's table of contents can be found online at: http://pps.sagepub.com/content/9/4.toc


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Seeing the glass as half full: Taking a new look at cognition and aging." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140716165832.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2014, July 16). Seeing the glass as half full: Taking a new look at cognition and aging. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140716165832.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Seeing the glass as half full: Taking a new look at cognition and aging." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140716165832.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?

Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) More and more studies are showing positive benefits to playing video games, but the jury is still out on brain training programs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Spouse's Personality May Influence Your Earnings

Your Spouse's Personality May Influence Your Earnings

Newsy (Sep. 26, 2014) Research from Washington University suggest people with conscientious spouses have greater career success. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can A Blood Test Predict Psychosis Risk?

Can A Blood Test Predict Psychosis Risk?

Newsy (Sep. 26, 2014) Researchers say certain markers in the blood can predict risk of psychosis later in the life. The test can aid in early treatment for the condition. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Harpist Soothes Gorillas, Orangutans With Music

Harpist Soothes Gorillas, Orangutans With Music

AP (Sep. 25, 2014) Teri Tacheny, a harpist, has a loyal following of fans who appreciate her soothing music. Every month, gorillas, orangutans and monkeys amble down to hear her play at the Como Park Zoo in Minnesota. (Sept. 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins