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Psychology and Aging - Vol 32, Iss 8

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Psychology and Aging Psychology and Aging publishes original articles on adult development and aging. Such original articles include reports of research that may be applied, biobehavioral, clinical, educational, experimental (laboratory, field, or naturalistic studies), methodological, or psychosocial. Although the emphasis is on original research investigations, occasional theoretical analyses of research issues, practical clinical problems, or policy may appear, as well as critical reviews of a content area in adult development and aging.
Copyright 2017 American Psychological Association
  • Magical thinking decreases across adulthood.
    Magical thinking, or illogical causal reasoning such as superstitions, decreases across childhood, but almost no data speak to whether this developmental trajectory continues across the life span. In four experiments, magical thinking decreased across adulthood. This pattern replicated across two judgment domains and could not be explained by age-related differences in tolerance of ambiguity, domain-specific knowledge, or search for meaning. These data complement and extend findings that experience, accumulated over decades, guides older adults’ judgments so that they match, or even exceed, young adults’ performance. They also counter participants’ expectations, and cultural sayings (e.g., “old wives’ tales”), that suggest that older adults are especially superstitious. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Spousal preferences for joint retirement: Evidence from a multiactor survey among older dual-earner couples.
    The general assumption in past research on coupled retirement is that men and women prefer joint retirement. The current study tests this assumption and hypothesizes that preferences to retire jointly are associated with (a) the work and relationship attachment of both members of the couple, and (b) the respective spouse’s preferences. The results show that the majority of dual-earner couples have no preference for joint retirement. Male and female spouses with either weak work attachment or strong relationship attachment are more likely to prefer to retire jointly. Moreover, spouses strongly influence each other’s preferences. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Music to my ears: Age-related decline in musical and facial emotion recognition.
    We investigated young-old differences in emotion recognition using music and face stimuli and tested explanatory hypotheses regarding older adults’ typically worse emotion recognition. In Experiment 1, young and older adults labeled emotions in an established set of faces, and in classical piano stimuli that we pilot-tested on other young and older adults. Older adults were worse at detecting anger, sadness, fear, and happiness in music. Performance on the music and face emotion tasks was not correlated for either age group. Because musical expressions of fear were not equated for age groups in the pilot study of Experiment 1, we conducted a second experiment in which we created a novel set of music stimuli that included more accessible musical styles, and which we again pilot-tested on young and older adults. In this pilot study, all musical emotions were identified similarly by young and older adults. In Experiment 2, participants also made age estimations in another set of faces to examine whether potential relations between the face and music emotion tasks would be shared with the age estimation task. Older adults did worse in each of the tasks, and had specific difficulty recognizing happy, sad, peaceful, angry, and fearful music clips. Older adults’ difficulties in each of the 3 tasks—music emotion, face emotion, and face age—were not correlated with each other. General cognitive decline did not appear to explain our results as increasing age predicted emotion performance even after fluid IQ was controlled for within the older adult group. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Attentional effects of hand proximity occur later in older adults: Evidence from event-related potentials.
    Research with young adults has shown hand proximity biases attention both early (by the time stimuli are categorized as relevant for action) and later, selectively for goal-relevant-stimuli. We examined age-related changes in this multisensory integration of vision and proprioception by comparing behavior and event-related potentials (ERPs) between younger and older adults. In a visual detection task, the hand was placed near or kept far from target and nontarget stimuli matched for frequency and visual features. Although a behavioral hand proximity effect—faster response times for stimuli appearing near the hand—was found for both age groups, a proportionately larger effect was found for younger adults. ERPs revealed age-related differences in the time course of the hand’s effect on visual processing. Younger adults showed selective increases in contralateral N1 and parietal P3 amplitudes for targets near the hand, but older adults only showed hand effects at the P3 which were accompanied by concurrent neural activity in bilateral frontal regions. This neural pattern suggests that compared with younger adults, older adults may produce the behavioral hand proximity effect by integrating hand position and visual inputs relying more on later, task-related, frontal attentional mechanisms and less on early, posterior, multisensory integration. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Age-differences in the temporal properties of proactive interference in working memory.
    The inability to suppress irrelevant information has been suggested as a primary cause of proactive interference (PI), and this deficit may be enhanced in aging. The current study examines age differences and temporal boundaries of PI, by manipulating lure distances in a verbal 2-back working memory task. Both younger and older adults showed effects of interference for proximal 3- and 4-back lures, and this effect was greater for older adults. Whereas younger adults showed less interference during 4-back compared to 3-back lures, in both reaction times and accuracy, older adults improved only in accuracy. For distant lures, when the time between the 1st presentation of an item to its reappearance as a lure item was longer (e.g., 5- to 10-back lures), younger adults were no longer affected by PI. However, older adults were affected by PI throughout all distant lures, up to the most distant lure (9-/10-back). The results suggest that older adults were less successful in resolving interference from both proximal and distant familiar lures. Further, younger adults were able to overcome the effects of PI completely after a specific lure distance. The age differences in temporal properties of PI may therefore highlight a unique component linked to impaired interference control and aging. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Working memory training in older adults: Bayesian evidence supporting the absence of transfer.
    The question of whether working memory training leads to generalized improvements in untrained cognitive abilities is a longstanding and heatedly debated one. Previous research provides mostly ambiguous evidence regarding the presence or absence of transfer effects in older adults. Thus, to draw decisive conclusions regarding the effectiveness of working memory training interventions, methodologically sound studies with larger sample sizes are needed. In this study, we investigated whether or not a computer-based working memory training intervention induced near and far transfer in a large sample of 142 healthy older adults (65 to 80 years). Therefore, we randomly assigned participants to either the experimental group, which completed 25 sessions of adaptive, process-based working memory training, or to the active, adaptive visual search control group. Bayesian linear mixed-effects models were used to estimate performance improvements on the level of abilities, using multiple indicator tasks for near (working memory) and far transfer (fluid intelligence, shifting, and inhibition). Our data provided consistent evidence supporting the absence of near transfer to untrained working memory tasks and the absence of far transfer effects to all of the assessed abilities. Our results suggest that working memory training is not an effective way to improve general cognitive functioning in old age. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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