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HLTHAGE 1BB3 (288)
Anju Joshi (127)
Lecture 8

HLTHAGE 1BB3 Lecture 8: Health and Aging 1BB3 Lecture 8

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Health, Aging and Society
Anju Joshi

Lecture 8: The Aging Mind • Brain o our brains shrink about 10% as we get older ▪ look at structure and function as a source of mental decline later in life o develop problems with reaction times o lose ability to multitask o problems with our working memory o brain function peaks at age 20; 40-50 years old - (latency) can’t recall words or names ▪ association processes for memory ▪ does not affect day to day function o these changes take place gradually throughout life o cognitive reserve: refers to exceptional mental performance, particularly when a person has to work at maximum mental capacity; first observed in cognitively impaired people who performed better than expected in everyday life • Neuroplasticity o refers to changes in neural pathways and synapses due to changes in behavior, environment, neural processes, thinking, and emotions. o neurogenesis: the body not only preserves brain cells, it creates new neurons and new neuronal connections at every age o plasticity: the brain’s ability to change and adapt over time • Four Findings from Recent Brain Research (mental growth and development): 1. the brain recognizes itself in response to new information and experience 2. brain cells grow later in life 3. the brain’s emotional centres grow more balanced with age 4. compared with younger people, older people use both halves of their brain more equally • Laboratory Studies o non-episodic memory: memory oriented toward the present or the future with no reference to the time at which the person stored the memory; includes learned skills through practice or a person’s general knowledge of the world o episodic memory: memory oriented toward the past, or acquired at specific time and place, as in learning in an experimental setting o encoding: the process whereby a person puts new bits of information together with already stored information o working memory: where recent acquired information is manipulated and processed at the same time as it is being stored temporarily • The Limits of Laboratory Research on Memory o physical aging, differences in educational background, verbal ability o stereotype threat: the brain’s ability to change and adapt over time ▪ an older person’s fear of failure on memory tests leading to poor performance • The Contextual Approach o contextual view of memory: the idea that many conditions influence memory, including physical, psychological, and social contexts and the knowledge, abilities, and characteristics of the individual, as well as the situation in which the individual is asked to remember o semantic memory: the source of factual information • Summary of Findings on Aging and Mental Potential 1. negative stereotypes, test anxiety, and other distractions account for some of the decline we see in lab studies of mental performance 2. some types of memory and cognitive function show little decline when studied in everyday contexts 3. compared with younger people, so
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