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Module 16 - Adulthood

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York University
PSYC 1010
Heather Jenkins

Module 16 - Adulthood Development occurs across the lifespan  physical development - physical decline, lifespan and death, sensory changes  cognitive development - memory  social development - commitments These differences make up 3 stages of adulthood: 1. Early adulthood (roughly twenties and thirties) 2. Middle adulthood (to age 65) 3. Late adulthood (years after 65) Physical Development In our peak mid 20s we reach a peak in the natural physical abilities which come with biological maturation: muscular strength, cardiac output, reaction time, sensory sensitivity -muscles weaken; body becomes less flexible -basal metabolism slows -visual acuity, fertility decline -many middle-aged adults remain vigorously active Physical changes - Middle Adulthood - between ages 40 and 60, physical vitality (such as endurance and strength) may still be more of a function of lifestyle than of biological decline - some changes are still driven by genetic maturation, especially, the end of our reproductive years - there is a gradual decline in sexual activity in adulthood, although sexuality can continue throughout life - around age 50, women enter menopause(the end of being able to get pregnant) - according to evolutionary psychologists, why might it make sense for woman's fertility to end? - The Aging Body - the rise in life expectancy with declining birth rates means a higher percentage of the world population is old - more elderly people are women because more men die than women at every age. By age 100, women outnumber men by a ratio of 5 to 1. -potential lifespan for the human body is estimated to be about 122 years -the worldwide average has increased from 49 in 1950 to 69 in 2010 Why Don't We Live Forever? Possible Biological Answers: Nurture/environment  An accumulation of stress, damage, and disease wears us down until one of these factors kills us Genes  Some people have genes that protect against some kinds of damage.  Even with great genes and environment, telomeres (the tips at the end of the chromosomes) wear down with every generation of cell duplication and we stop healing well - smoking, obesity, and stress affects the telomeres. This impacts our immune system. Physical Changes with Age - the following abilities decline as we age:  Visual activity, both sharpness and brightness  Smell  Hearing, especially sensing higher pitch, our world is more noisy than it was 30 years ago.  Reaction time and general motor abilities  Muscle strength  Neural processing speed, especially for complex and novel tasks Health Immunity changes with age  Bad news = our immune system declines with age, which makes it harder for us to fight major illnesses  Good news = we get a lifetime of accumulation of antibodies, which does a better job fighting minor illnesses Exercise Can Slow The Aging Process  Exercise can build muscles and bones  Prevents obesity and heart disease  Stimulate neurogenesis (in the hippocampus - brain region important for memory) and new neural connections  Maintain telomeres  Improve cognition (memory and judgment)  Reduce the risk of dementia Changes In The Brain With Age  Myelin-enhanced neural processing speed peaks in the teen years, and declines thereafter  Regions of the brain related to memory begin to shrink with age, making it harder to from new memories  The frontal lobes begin to atrophy, leading eventually to decreased inhibition and self- control  By age 80, a healthy brain is 5% lighter than a brain in middle adulthood (you lose 5 % of your brain in 40 years) Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias  Dementia, including Alzheimer's type, is NOT a normal part of aging.  Occurs from a series of small strokes, a brain tumor, or alcohol dependence that progressively damage the brain.  First your memory deteriorates, then your reasoning. Dementia Symptoms -decreased ability to recall recent events and the names of familiar objects and people -emotional unpredictability; flat, then uninhibited, then angry -confusion, disorientation, and eventual inability to think or communicate Brain Changes of Alzheimer's Disease -loss of brain cells and neural network connections -deterioration of neurons that produce acetylcholine (the memory neurotransmitter) -diminishing sense of smell -shriveled and broken protein filaments, forming plaques at the tips of the neurons -dramatic shrinking of the brain  Less than 3 percent of Canadian population (199,000) = people with Alzheimer's right now -number will increase because people are living longer Cognitive Development and Memory  Even without the brain changes of dementia, there are some changes in our ability to learn, process, and recall information  The ability to recognize information and use previous knowledge as expertise, does not decline with age. Rote Memorization - constantly repeating something to remember or learn it  this ability declines more than the ability to learn meaningful information Pro
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