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Trends Cogn Sci. 2014 Jan;18(1):7-15. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2013.10.006. Epub 2013 Nov 7.

Cognitive aging: is there a dark side to environmental support?

Author information

1
Center for Lifespan Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany. Electronic address: lindenberger@mpib-berlin.mpg.de.
2
Department of Psychology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, USA. Electronic address: mayr@uoregon.edu.

Abstract

It has been known for some time that memory deficits among older adults increase when self-initiated processing is required and decrease when the environment provides task-appropriate cues. We propose that this observation is not confined to memory but can be subsumed under a more general developmental trend. In perception, learning or memory, and action management, older adults often rely more on external information than younger adults do, probably both as a direct reflection and indirect adaptation to difficulties in internally triggering and maintaining cognitive representations. This age-graded shift from internal towards environmental control is often associated with compromised performance. Cognitive aging research and the design of aging-friendly environments can benefit from paying closer attention to the developmental dynamics and implications of this shift.

KEYWORDS:

cognitive aging; cognitive control; environmental support; self-initiated processing

PMID:
24210962
PMCID:
PMC3969029
DOI:
10.1016/j.tics.2013.10.006
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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