Research Topic

New frontiers in Cognitive Aging

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Most western societies have an increasing number of older adults. The proportion of people of 65 years and older will rise from 15% in 2009 to 26% in 2039 and the ratio of older adults versus the productive population will increase from 25 to 49%. Given this growing population it will be rather important in ...

Most western societies have an increasing number of older adults. The proportion of people of 65 years and older will rise from 15% in 2009 to 26% in 2039 and the ratio of older adults versus the productive population will increase from 25 to 49%. Given this growing population it will be rather important in the near future to understand how cognitive functioning can be preserved and promoted in old age.
So far we already know that some cognitive processes (e.g., feature perception, speech) are less impaired while other cognitive processes such as speed of processing, working memory, and reasoning show large decrements with increasing age. A crucial deficit that triggers these problems is a general decrease in the control over task-relevant mental processes: it is increasingly difficult to apply new rules, to coordinate multiple rules, and to maintain relevant information in the context of interfering one.
The decline of control or executive processes in old age has been related to age-related alterations in prefrontal lobe functioning. To enhance our understanding of the role of executive processes in cognitive aging, many critical questions need to be answered. Are all executive processes impaired in old age, and if not, why are some more sensitive to aging than others? What are useful cognitive interventions to preserve executive functioning in old age and how important are the genetics and the environment (lifestyle, diet, bilingualism, religion, and so on)?
The focus of this Research Topic is on executive control and aging. We seek empirical contributions using different methodologies including behavioral, computational and neuroscience approaches. We also welcome theoretical contributions that provide detailed discussion of models or mechanisms that account for the relationship between aging and executive control. We aim to provide a stage for new contributions that represent a state-of-the art overview of approaches to cognitive control in aging. It is our hope that this Research Topic can trigger meaningful discussion and open up new frontiers for investigations into cognitive aging.


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