Guest Seminar: "The age-prospective memory paradox and its potential implications for cognitive aging research", Dr Katharina Schnitzspahn, University of Aberdeen
Title: The age-prospective memory paradox and its potential implications for cognitive aging research
Prospective memory involves remembering intended actions in the future, such as posting a letter when seeing a post box or making a phone call at 2pm. Previous studies on aging and prospective memory revealed an interesting pattern: Young adults usually outperformed older adults in the laboratory, while age benefits could be observed in naturalistic tasks that had to be performed in participants’ everyday lives. This pattern of results has been called the age-prospective memory-paradox. In my talk I will present three studies examining the paradox and factors associated with the age deficits in the lab and the age benefits in everyday life. In conclusion, our findings indicate that the age effects in both settings differ as a function of the specific prospective memory task used. Accordingly, the precise pattern of the paradox may need re-defining as mostly consisting of negative age effects in lab-based tasks and mostly the absence of negative age effects (rather than benefits) in prospective memory tasks outside the laboratory. Further, our studies suggest that a general cognitive decline underlies the age deficits observed in the laboratory, while older adults seem to be able to compensate for this decline in their everyday lives with higher motivation and better metamemory. The finding that older adults can function cognitively as well as young adults in everyday life while displaying deficits in laboratory tasks is theoretically and practically important, as it addresses prevailing beliefs that cognitive functions significantly deteriorate in old age. The implications of this finding for cognitive aging research will be discussed.
Host: Professor Elizabeth Maylor
3.30pm Refreshments in Common Roon