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Psych 357 Ch 6.docx

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Simon Fraser University
PSYC 357
Dagmar Bernstein

Psych 357 Ch 6 (Basic cognitive functions) • Abilities to learn, remember, problem solve and learn in the world are key to adapting • Field of cognition central to adult dev/aging • Information processing (cognitive functions of ppl compared to that of a computer) o Data in thru various sensory routes, and progress thru series of stages of analysis, either stores info or prepares it for instant use o Psychomotor speed: amount of time it takes us to process a signal, prepare a response and then execute that response  Speed reflects integrity of NS?  Reaction time= time to respond to stimulus • We are quicker when we’re younger, increases w/age generally not hugely noticeable in everyday lfie (tho can see dif in lab)  General slowing hypothesis: increase in reaction ntime reflects general decline in processing speed of info w/in NS of aging indiv • Related to this idea is age-complexity hypothesis *thru slowing of central processese in NS, age difs increase as tasks become more complex and our processing resources are stretched more and more to their limit o This hypoth arrived thru observations in cross sectional studies showing reaction times older vs younger adults (on a Brinley plot- older adult reaction time on y, younger adult reaction time on x) o Loss of speed leads to memory impairments b/c of backlog in cognitive processes o Attention: ability to focus or concentrate on portion of experience while ignoring other features of experience, being able to shift that focus as demanded by the situation and to be able to coordinate info from multiple sources  Most studies suggest that ppl become less efficient as they get older in the use of attentional processes  Attentional resources: older adults have less energy available for cognitive processes than younger ppl across wide domain of tasks  Vs Inhibitory deficit hypothesis: aging reduces ability to inhibit/ignore irrelevant info • Much data to support this  Attn a fleeting state, a necessary step prior to more detailed analysis of incoming info • Ppl who are worried about the aging of their cognitive abilities may be more likely to engage in identity accommodation, the “over-the- hill” mentality and suffer even more declines than they would otherwise  Remembering where an item was in a visual display seems to be unaffected by the aging process, visual search better  Dual task (Divided attn task) activities to test multitasking abilities (2 sources of input) • Everyone disadvantaged to a certain extent when having to divide attention, more so in older adults • Older adults make up for disadvantage by reducing activity of frontal regions of brain that younger adults activate during this task and increasing the activity in other regions taht store visual and spatial info  Sustained attn= to maintain attn over prolonged period of time  Context processing deficiency hypothesis: aging affects our ability to take the context of info into account when making judgments (ie sustained attn task) • Older adults esp affected b/w they have fewer reousres to devote to task when they must constantly remind selevs of instructions • Measured by AX-CPT (continuous performance task) where must perform one response to task and another to nontarget o Younger adults better at considering context o Age difs in performance on this aren’t readily explained by inhibitory deficit or general slowing hypothesis, instead susggest a unique contribution of context processing difficulties to the slower rxn time of older adults • Driving and aging: o Visual probs= loss of visual acuity, increased sensitivity to glare, difficulty seeing in the dark,  Driving requiring quick cognitive decisions  One study said teenagers still greater theeat than older adults (esp male teens) • F drivers retain lower rate of dying in motor vehicle accidesnts up thru 70s and beyond, older male drivers (although upturn in fatalities) never reach high point of young male drivers • Accidents most likely when travelling in straight line, b/c then go too fast o Poor judgment, lack of seatbelt use, intoxication big problems o High link b/w driving and independence so loss of that ability really hurts feelings of autonomy • Memory: o Aging process does have negative effects on many, but not all, aspects of memory o Working memory:  Part of memory that keeps info temporarily available and active  Very vulnerable to effects of aging  4 components: • Phonological loop= memory store for speech based info (can be rehearsed by repeating matieral over and over again in your head) • Visuospatial sketchpad: records and maintains visual and spatial images • Episodic buffer= brings info from LTM into WM • Central executive= puts everything together (responsible for deciding how to allocate resources)  Decreases in WM thougth to be tied to deficits in hippocampus although older adutlsa ble to compensate in part thru increasing activation in frontal lobes  Inhibitory deficit hypoth proposes that we experience increasing difficulty w/age in our aility to inhi
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