Date: Oct 14, 2020 03:00pm -4:30pm

Location: online

Title: Modifiable Factors Affecting Neural Decline in Aging: The roles of context and experience

Speaker: John A.E. Anderson


Most studies exploring cognitive ability across the lifespan collapse across individual differences and contexts. At this moment, one may find older adults perform worse than younger adults. However, human cognition is not a timeless singularity. It is dynamic and responds to both context and experience, and the complex interplay of the two. Exploring these factors promises to reveal the rich spectrum of human ability across the lifespan and challenges what we think of as “normal” performance and aging. My research program uses behavioral and neuroimaging techniques in concert with multivariate analyses to explore how context and experience alter evoked brain and behavioral responses. A particular focus of my program is the spectrum of ability in aging, a poignant topic given North America’s current demographics. Our population is aging, and more of us will need to know how to interpret a neuropsychological test, whether for a parent, a spouse, or ourselves. My research program underscores the need to accommodate environmental factors such as time of day, and experiential factors leading to cognitive reserve, such as second-language use. Across two parallel lines of research, I ask how experiences and changes in context modify age differences in cognitive control, and what this means for how we define typical cognitive performance.