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Psychology and Aging

Xuan Li, Philip A Allen, Mei-Ching Lien, Naohide Yamamoto
Previous studies on perceptual learning, acquiring a new skill through practice, appear to stimulate brain plasticity and enhance performance (Fiorentini & Berardi, 1981). The present study aimed to determine (a) whether perceptual learning can be used to compensate for age-related declines in perceptual abilities, and (b) whether the effect of perceptual learning can be transferred to untrained stimuli and subsequently improve capacity of visual working memory (VWM). We tested both healthy younger and older adults in a 3-day training session using an orientation discrimination task...
December 19, 2016: Psychology and Aging
Ute Kunzmann, Margund Rohr, Cornelia Wieck, Cathleen Kappes, Carsten Wrosch
This study investigated age differences in anger and sadness in a sample of 82 younger (Mage = 26, SDage = 4.05) and 80 older (Mage = 70, SDage = 3.95) adults. Participants were instructed to first relive a personal memory that was characterized by either anger or sadness and to subsequently think aloud about this memory. Across different emotional response systems (i.e., subjective feelings, verbal expressions, facial behaviors, physiological arousal), older adults reacted with less anger than did their younger counterparts, whereas age differences in sadness were less pronounced...
December 15, 2016: Psychology and Aging
Jessica A Cooper, Nathaniel J Blanco, W Todd Maddox
We examined framing effects on exploratory decision-making. In Experiment 1 we tested older and younger adults in two decision-making tasks separated by one week, finding that older adults' decision-making performance was preserved when maximizing gains, but it declined when minimizing losses. Computational modeling indicates that younger adults in both conditions, and older adults in gains maximization, utilized a decreasing threshold strategy (which is optimal), but older adults in losses were better fit by a fixed-probability model of exploration...
December 15, 2016: Psychology and Aging
Aleea L Devitt, Lynette Tippett, Daniel L Schacter, Donna Rose Addis
Because of its reconstructive nature, autobiographical memory (AM) is subject to a range of distortions. One distortion involves the erroneous incorporation of features from one episodic memory into another, forming what are known as memory conjunction errors. Healthy aging has been associated with an enhanced susceptibility to conjunction errors for laboratory stimuli, yet it is unclear whether these findings translate to the autobiographical domain. We investigated the impact of aging on vulnerability to AM conjunction errors, and explored potential cognitive processes underlying the formation of these errors...
December 2016: Psychology and Aging
Corinna E Löckenhoff, Joshua L Rutt, Gregory R Samanez-Larkin, Ted O'Donoghue, Valerie F Reyna, Barbara Ganzel
Previous research has found age differences in intertemporal choices that involve trade-offs among events or outcomes that occur at different points in time, but these findings were mostly limited to hypothetical financial and consumer choices. We examined whether age effects extend to unpleasant physical experiences that elicit states of dread which lead participants to speed up the outcomes just to get them over with. We asked participants of different ages to choose among electrical shocks that varied in timing and intensity...
December 2016: Psychology and Aging
Mathew A Harris, Caroline E Brett, Wendy Johnson, Ian J Deary
There is evidence for differential stability in personality trait differences, even over decades. The authors used data from a sample of the Scottish Mental Survey, 1947 to study personality stability from childhood to older age. The 6-Day Sample (N = 1,208) were rated on six personality characteristics by their teachers at around age 14. In 2012, the authors traced as many of these participants as possible and invited them to take part in a follow-up study. Those who agreed (N = 174) completed a questionnaire booklet at age 77 years, which included rating themselves and asking someone who knew them well to rate them on the same 6 characteristics on which they were rated in adolescence...
December 2016: Psychology and Aging
Nathan W Hudson, Richard E Lucas, M Brent Donnellan
A large body of previous research suggests that people's global evaluations of their well-being tend to increase as a function of age. Fewer studies, however, have examined the extent to which people's in vivo experiences of well-being (e.g., felt emotions) vary as a function of age-and the existing findings are mixed. The present study used an approximately nationally representative sample of more than 2,500 Germans to evaluate developmental patterns in both experiential and global well-being using cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses...
December 2016: Psychology and Aging
Cassandra L Brown, Annie Robitaille, Elizabeth M Zelinski, Roger A Dixon, Scott M Hofer, Andrea M Piccinin
Social activity is 1 aspect of an active lifestyle and some evidence indicates it is related to preserved cognitive function in older adulthood. However, the potential mechanisms underlying this association remain unclear. We investigate 4 potential mediational pathways through which social activity may relate to cognitive performance. A multilevel structural equation modeling approach to mediation was used to investigate whether cognitive activity, physical activity, depressive symptoms, and vascular health conditions mediate the association between social activity and cognitive function in older adults...
December 2016: Psychology and Aging
Markus Wettstein, Oliver K Schilling, Hans-Werner Wahl
Indicators of objective functioning, such as everyday competence or sensory and sensorimotor functions, typically show pronounced declines in very old age. However, less is known about how very old adults perceive their abilities across multiple domains of health and functioning and to what extent changes in perceived functioning mirror changes in objective functioning. We compared changes in perceived versus objective health and functioning indicators among very old adults (n = 124; baseline age between 87 and 97 years, M = 90...
December 2016: Psychology and Aging
Beatrice G Kuhlmann, Ute J Bayen, Katharina Meuser, Anna E Kornadt
In 2 experiments, we examined reliance on age stereotypes when reconstructing the sources of statements. Two sources presented statements (half typical for a young adult, half for an old adult). Afterward, the sources' ages-23 and 70 years-were revealed and participants completed a source-monitoring task requiring attribution of statements to the sources. Multinomial model-based analyses revealed no age-typicality effect on source memory; however, age-typicality biased source-guessing: When not remembering the source, participants predominantly guessed the source for whose age the statement was typical...
December 2016: Psychology and Aging
Yuhong V Jiang, Wilma Koutstaal, Emily L Twedell
Age-related decline is pervasive in tasks that require explicit learning and memory, but such reduced function is not universally observed in tasks involving incidental learning. It is unknown if habitual attention, involving incidental probabilistic learning, is preserved in older adults. Previous research on habitual attention investigated contextual cuing in young and older adults, yet contextual cuing relies not only on spatial attention but also on context processing. Here we isolated habitual attention from context processing in young and older adults...
December 2016: Psychology and Aging
Suvobrata Mitra, Nicola Doherty, Hayley Boulton, Elizabeth A Maylor
Physical and imagined movements show similar behavioral constraints and neurophysiological activation patterns. An inhibition mechanism is thought to suppress overt movement during motor imagery, but it does not effectively suppress autonomic or postural adjustments. Inhibitory processes and postural stability both deteriorate with age. Thus, older people's balance is potentially vulnerable to interference from postural adjustments induced by thoughts about past or future actions. Here, young and older adults stood upright and executed or imagined manual reaching movements...
December 2016: Psychology and Aging
Stephan Getzmann, Edmund Wascher
Older adults are usually more easily distracted by task-irrelevant stimuli than younger ones. In addition, there is evidence that it takes them more time to overcome a distracting event. Here, the distracting effect of irregular switches in speaker location was studied in 22 younger and 22 older adults in a speech perception task. The participants responded to target words that were presented either from a frequent location (standard trials) or a rare location (deviant trials). Behavioral performance measures, event-related brain potentials (ERPs), and EEG synchronization (intertrial coherence [ITC]) were analyzed...
December 2016: Psychology and Aging
Nicola Mammarella, Alberto Di Domenico, Rocco Palumbo, Beth Fairfield
Numerous studies have reported age-related differences in memory for emotional information. One explanation places emphasis on an emotion processing preference in older adults that reflects their socioemotional self-relevant goals. Here, we evaluate the degree to which this preference in memory may be modulated by color. In 2 experiments, younger and older adults were asked to study a series of affective words (Experiment 1) or affective pictures (Experiment 2) and then presented with an immediate yes/no memory recognition task...
December 2016: Psychology and Aging
Pauline Narme, Isabelle Peretz, Marie-Laure Strub, Anne-Marie Ergis
Normal aging affects explicit memory while leaving implicit memory relatively spared. Normal aging also modifies how emotions are processed and experienced, with increasing evidence that older adults (OAs) focus more on positive information than younger adults (YAs). The aim of the present study was to investigate how age-related changes in emotion processing influence explicit and implicit memory. We used emotional melodies that differed in terms of valence (positive or negative) and arousal (high or low)...
December 2016: Psychology and Aging
Kathrin Zimmermann, Claudia C von Bastian, Christina Röcke, Mike Martin, Anne Eschen
A substantial part of age-related episodic memory decline has been attributed to the decreasing ability of older adults to encode and retrieve associations among simultaneously processed information units from long-term memory. In addition, this ability seems to share unique variance with reasoning. In this study, we therefore examined whether process-based training of the ability to learn and remember associations has the potential to induce transfer effects to untrained episodic memory and reasoning tasks in healthy older adults (60-75 years)...
November 2016: Psychology and Aging
Christopher N Wahlheim, Lauren L Richmond, Mark J Huff, Ian G Dobbins
In a recent experiment using dual-list free recall of unrelated word lists, C. N. Wahlheim and M. J. Huff (2015) found that relative to younger adults, older adults showed: (a) impaired recollection of temporal context, (b) a broader pattern of retrieval initiation when recalling from 2 lists, and (c) more intrusions when selectively recalling from 1 of 2 lists. These findings showed older adults' impaired ability to use controlled retrieval to avoid proactive and retroactive interference. In the present investigation, 3 studies examined whether differences in retrieval initiation patterns were unique to aging and whether they were governed by the control mechanisms that underlie individuals' susceptibility to intrusions...
November 2016: Psychology and Aging
Stephen P Badham, Marie Poirier, Navina Gandhi, Anna Hadjivassiliou, Elizabeth A Maylor
From the perspective of memory-as-discrimination, whether a cue leads to correct retrieval simultaneously depends on the cue's relationship to (a) the memory target and (b) the other retrieval candidates. A corollary of the view is that increasing encoding-retrieval match may only help memory if it improves the cue's capacity to discriminate the target from competitors. Here, age differences in this discrimination process were assessed by manipulating the overlap between cues present at encoding and retrieval orthogonally with cue-target distinctiveness...
November 2016: Psychology and Aging
Kendra L Seaman, Marissa A Gorlick, Kruti M Vekaria, Ming Hsu, David H Zald, Gregory R Samanez-Larkin
Although research on aging and decision making continues to grow, the majority of studies examine decisions made to maximize monetary earnings or points. It is not clear whether these results generalize to other types of rewards. To investigate this, we examined adult age differences in 92 healthy participants aged 22 to 83. Participants completed 9 hypothetical discounting tasks, which included 3 types of discounting factors (time, probability, effort) across 3 reward domains (monetary, social, health). Participants made choices between a smaller magnitude reward with a shorter time delay/higher probability/lower level of physical effort required and a larger magnitude reward with a longer time delay/lower probability/higher level of physical effort required...
November 2016: Psychology and Aging
JoNell Strough, Wändi Bruine de Bruin, Andrew M Parker, Tara Karns, Philip Lemaster, Nipat Pichayayothin, Rebecca Delaney, Rachel Stoiko
We tested interventions to reduce "sunk-cost bias," the tendency to continue investing in failing plans even when those plans have soured and are no longer rewarding. We showed members of a national U.S. life-span panel a hypothetical scenario about a failing plan that was halfway complete. Participants were randomly assigned to an intervention to focus on how to improve the situation, an intervention to focus on thoughts and feelings, or a no-intervention control group. First, we found that the thoughts and feelings intervention reduced sunk-cost bias in decisions about project completion, as compared to the improvement intervention and the no-intervention control...
November 2016: Psychology and Aging
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