You are on page 1of 13

FACS 159 Studying Adult Development 01/26/2017

Gerontology the study of aging.

Ageism discrimination against people and their age. (threat to
aging well)
Myths (all negatives, what we think they are losing)
o Progressive physical decline
o Progressive cognitive/mental decline
Inability to learn old dogs cant learn new tricks
o Lack of creativity
o No longer productive workers
Skills that are no longer taught today are still useful and
needed for updated technology
o Social Isolation
o Cranky/crabby/negative behavior
o Lack of interest in sex/asexual behaviors
o Economic and familial burdens
o The elderly population is the most likely group to suffer from
negative stereotyping

Consequences of Ageism:
Social and health policies created based on stereotypes rather than
actual facts
Stereotype Threat treat them in a way which we expect them to
behave. A result is giving in and living how we are pressuring them
Elderspeak treat them like babies, shorter phrases, dumbed
down versions, etc.
We are shortchanging ourselves (we reap what we sow: we will get
treated the same way)
Life-span development involves dynamic interactions (pg 5)

Demographics of Aging (Education Level)

Future older adults will be increasingly more educated
o Changes in educational opportunities and need for college
education to get jobs

Four Main Forces of Development:

Life-cycle key events in peoples lives that affect development

Biopsychosocial framework - includes biological, psychological, and

sociocultural forces.
Interrelations among forces:
o Cohort group of people born at the same point in time
(usually birth year)
Three sets of influences
Normative age-graded (graduating HS)
Social clock can shift
Normative history-graded (9/11)
Non-normative (injury, untimely death of friend)
Culture and Ethnicity
Culture shared basic value orientations, norms, beliefs, and
customary habits and ways of living.
Solid and fluid qualities of ethnic group identities
Fluid = different group names
Importance of studying various ethnic groups:
Health disparities
Income disparities
Family and community differences

Primary aging: typical age characteristics/changes that are NOT

Secondary aging: changes related to disease, environment, and
lifestyle changes.
Tertiary aging

Different Definitions of Age

Chronological Age
Biological Age
Psychological Age
Sociocultural Age
Functional Age (how well you function at chronological age)
Perceived Age
Core Issues in Development
The nature-nurture issue
o Biology vs. Environment
The stability-change issueZ
Continuity-discontinuity controversy - plasticity

Measurement in Research
Validity survey is actually measuring what youre trying to figure

Indepedent what you manipulate

Dependent response that you get

3rd variable another cause
self-esteem = depression?
Low self esteem is RELATED to depressionwhat is the connection?
Correlation NEVER = Causality
Case studies
Single individual
Multiple individuals
Very rare, unique situations. Does not apply to a large group of people.

Cross-sectional one point in time with a variety of ages.

Longitudinal follow same people over a point of time

Sequential designs combination of cross-sectional/longitudinal

Integrating Findings from Different Studies

o Power tool
o Determines whether a finding generalizes across many
studies that used different methods.

Conducting Research Ethically

Minimize risks to research participants
Describe the research to potential participants
Avoid deception
Results should be anonymous or confidential
Sex Differences in Brains
Female and Male Brains
o NIH reported that boys brains are approximately 9% larger
than girls brains
o Damage from a stroke results in less language impairment in
women than in men
o Some researchers have found that a portion of the corpus
callosum is larger in women

Age-Related Changes
o Number of nerons declines (doesnt mean more incapable,
starts processing differently)
o Number and size of dendrites decreases
o Tangles develop in axon fibers
o Increases in deposits of proteins
o Number of synapses decreases

o Dopamine is associated with high-level cogitive functioning,
so declines are related to poorer:
Episodic Memory
Tasks that require fast processing
o Serotonin and Aceylcholine also decline with age
Brain Structures
o White matter hyperintensities (WMH)
Indicates myelin loss or neural atrophy (nerves
shrinking or dying)
o Considerable shrinkage occurs in the brain
Especially in prefrontal cortex, hippocampus and
o Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)
Provides index of density or structural health of the
white matter
Execuive Functioning
Difficulty focusing solely on relevant information
Due to WMH and reduced volume of prefrontal cortex
Specific structural changes (eg the hippocampus) result in memory
Increased processing of positive emotional information with age
Better emotion regulation with age

Social-Emotional Cognition
Older adults may rely more ona utomatic judgment processes than
reflective processing

Prefrontal Cortex
Positivity Effect older adults are more motivated to derive
emotional meaning from life and to maintain positive feelings than
younger adults.
Pariteo-Frontal Integration Theory
P-FIT MODEL proposes that intelligence comes from a distributed
and integrated network of nerons in the parietal and frontal areas of
the brain.

Can Older Adults Compensate for Brain Changes?

When presented with similar tasks
o Younger adults exhibit, unilateral activity in left prefrontal
o Older adults exhibit bilateral activity (both left and right
prefrontal areas)
Older adults are compensating
Bilateral activation in older adults plays a supportive
role in older adults cognitive function

Theories of Brain-Behavior Changes

HAROLD (hemispheric asymmetry reduction in older adults)
o Suggests bilaterality is compensatory in older adults with
reduced cognitive ability
CRUNCH (compensation-related utilization of neural circuits
o Similar to HAROLD but suggests additional mechanisms at
work of aging brains over-utilizing other regions in the left
hemisphere on demaning tasks before going to the right
STAC (scaffolding theory of cognitive age)
o Default network theory holds that when the cognitive
demands are made on the brain the default network is

Neural Plasticity and the Aging Brain

Plasticity ability to map around a damaged area
o Strengthens what there and produces more
o Neurons who fire together wire together (stronger
o Enhanced by aerobic exercise
o Nutrition is also a big factor

Active system that receives information from the senses.
Organizes and stores sensory information
Retrieves information later from storage when needed.

Attention allows us to encode a memory

Focusing mental resources on information
Different types of attention:
o Visual attention
o Auditory attention

Selective Attention
Filter Theory attempts to explain how we selectively attend to the
most important information
Examples of Selective Attention
o Change Blindess
o Cocktail Party Effect hearing your name in the crowd
Information Processing and Attention
Information Processing Model
o Uses a computer metaphor to explain how people process
Based on Three Assumptions
1. People are active participants
2. Both quantitative and qualitative aspects of performance can be
3. Information is processed through a series of hypothetical stages
(steps) or stores.
Basic overview:
Perception of information
Acting on information and transforming it in some way
Storage of information
Retrieval (only can retrieve memories youve encoded and STORED)

Sensory Memory a brief and almost identical represenation of the

stimuli that exists in the observable environment.

Speed of Processing
How quickly and efficiently the early steps in information processing
are completed
Not easy to measure with aging
Processing Resources:
The amount of attention one has to apply to a particular situation
Why decline in processing with age?
o Inhibitory Loss difficulty in blocking unneed information.
Overwhelmed and unable to ignore/filter.
o Attentional Resources problems with divided attention.

Automatic Processing
Places minimal demands on attentional capacity
Gets information into the system largely without us being aware of
Effortful Processing
Requires all of the available attentional capacity

Memory Processes:
1. Encoding
2. Storage
3. Retrieval

Working Memory
Active processes and structures involved in holding information in
the mind.
Using information to:
o Solve a problem
o Make a decision
o Learn new information
Rehearsal: the process by which information is held in working

Implicit Memory (procedural memory)

Retrieval of information without conscious or intentional recollection
o Example: a language task such as stem completion
Has smaller age differences than explicit memory
Explicity Memory (declarative)
Intentional and conscious remembering of information that was
learned at a specific point in time
o Example: remembering who wrote the Gettysburg address
written by A. Lincoln in HS history class.

Long Term Memory

Ability to remember extensive amounts of information from a few
seconds, hours, or decades.
Two types of long-term memory:
Semantic Memory word association, meaning of word, not tied to
specific events.
o General knowledge (e.g. language, information) learned in
formal education
With aging increases 35-55 years then levels off
Has decline after age 65 then episodic memory
No change in language comprehension or knowledge
Might be due to problems with accessing/retrieving
Lack of rehearsal/use
Momentary retrieval failure example: TOT (tip of
the tongue)
Episodic Memory consciously try to remember information about
specific event.
o Recall (remembering without hints)
o Recognition (choosing from items)
Knowledge of personal information (personal experiences)