A psychology researcher at North Carolina State University is proposing a new theory to explain why older adults show declining cognitive ability with age, but don’t necessarily show declines in the workplace or daily life. One key appears to be how motivated older adults are to maintain focus on cognitive tasks. The paper, “Selective Engagement of Cognitive Resources: Motivational Influences on Older Adults’ Cognitive Functioning,” presently appears online in the July 2014 issue of the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science. The work builds on research performed under multiple grants from the National Institute on Aging.
Do older adults restrict participation in cognitively demanding activities that could ultimately benefit cognitive health? Or do they focus more by preference on what interests them most and is personally relevant? “My research team and I wanted to explain the difference we see in cognitive performance in different settings,” says Dr. Tom Hess, according to a July 28, 2014 news release, “Motivation explains disconnect between testing and real-life functioning for seniors.”
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