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Aging and Cognitive Processing

Melanie Morgan


The body of work on aging and information processing has consistently indicated that, generally, cognitive performance deteriorates with age ( Park & Minear 2004 ). Measures of speed, reasoning, and working memory all indicate a negative trend for age. Although these findings may seem bleak, there are some domains that remain intact. For instance, knowledge seems to continue to accumulate well into old age. One distinction that must be drawn when examining the effects of aging on cognitive processing is that between primary and secondary aging. Primary or normal aging is the inevitable process of deterioration that occurs as we move through the life-span and when a diagnosis of dementia has been eliminated. Secondary aging results from effects of the environment and disease. There is clear evidence that pathologies (e.g., dementia, loss of cardiovascular functioning, etc.) associated with aging are also associated with less efficient cognitive processes or abilities. Related to primary aging, three areas warrant attention: the relationship between aging and commonly assessed processing variables, the theoretical and methodological issues associated with this area, and finally, recent developments in the field of cognitive aging (→  Information Processing ; Cognition ; Memory ). As we age, the speed with which we perform certain mental operations declines. More specifically, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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