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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. The Aging Mind: Opportunities in Cognitive Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9783.
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the Aging Mind

Opportunities in Cognitive Research

Committee on Future Directions for Cognitive Research on Aging

Paul C. Stern and Laura L. Carstensen, editors

Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences

Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. The Aging Mind: Opportunities in Cognitive Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9783.
×

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20418

NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

This work was supported by Task Order 55 under NIH Contract No. N01-OD-4-2139 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the organizations or agencies that provided support for this project.

Suggested citation: National Research Council (2000) The Aging Mind: Opportunities in Cognitive Research. Committee on Future Directions for Cognitive Research on Aging. Paul C. Stern and Laura L. Carstensen, editors. Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

The aging mind: opportunities in cognitive research / Committee on Future Directions for Cognitive Research on Aging ; Paul C. Stern and Laura L. Carstensen, editors.

p. cm.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 0-309-06940-8 (pbk.)

1. Cognition—Age factors. 2. Ability, Influence of age on. I. Stern, Paul C. II. Carstensen, Laura L. III. National Research Council. Committee on Future Directions for Cognitive Research on Aging. IV. Title.

BF724.55. C63 A48 2000

155.67′13—dc21 00-008630

Additional copies of this report are available from
National Academy Press,
2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20418 Call (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area) This report is also available online at http://www.nap.edu

Copyright 2000 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. The Aging Mind: Opportunities in Cognitive Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9783.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

National Academy of Sciences

National Academy of Engineering

Institute of Medicine

National Research Council

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. The Aging Mind: Opportunities in Cognitive Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9783.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. The Aging Mind: Opportunities in Cognitive Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9783.
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COMMITTEE ON FUTURE DIRECTIONS FOR COGNITIVE RESEARCH ON AGING

Laura L. Carstensen (Chair),

Department of Psychology, Stanford University

Paul B. Baltes,

Center for Lifespan Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin

Deborah M. Burke,

Department of Psychology, Pomona College

Caleb E. Finch,

Division of Neurogerontology, University of Southern California

Reid Hastie,

Center for Research on Judgment and Policy, Department of Psychology, University of Colorado

Richard J. Jagacinski,

Department of Psychology, Ohio State University

Hazel R. Markus,

Department of Psychology, Stanford University

Timothy A. Salthouse,

School of Psychology, Georgia Institute of Technology

Larry R. Squire,

Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Diego and Departments of Psychiatry, Neuroscience, and Psychology, University of California, San Diego

Rudolph E. Tanzi,

Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Department of Neurology, Harvard University

Keith E. Whitfield,

Department of Biobehavioral Health, Pennsylvania State University

William A. Yost,

Parmly Hearing Institute, Loyola University Chicago

Paul C. Stern, Study Director

Cecilia Rossiter, Project Assistant

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. The Aging Mind: Opportunities in Cognitive Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9783.
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BOARD ON BEHAVIORAL, COGNITIVE, AND SENSORY SCIENCES

Anne Petersen (Chair),

W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Battle Creek, MI

Linda M. Burton,

Center for Human Development and Family Research, Pennsylvania State University

Stephen J. Ceci,

Department of Human Development, Cornell University

Eugene K. Emory,

Department of Psychology, Emory University

Rochel Gelman,

Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles

Anthony Jackson,

Disney Learning Initiative, Burbank, California

Peter Lennie,

Department of Science, New York University

Marcia C. Linn,

Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley

Elissa Newport,

Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester

Charles R. Plott,

Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, California Institute of Technology

Michael Rutter,

Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Research Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, London

Arnold Sameroff,

Center for Human Growth and Development, University of Michigan

Edward E. Smith,

Department of Psychology, University of Michigan

Larry R. Squire,

Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Diego and Departments of Psychiatry, Neuroscience, and Psychology, University of California, San Diego

Robert J. Sternberg,

Department of Psychology, Yale University

James W. Stigler,

Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles

John A. Swets,

BBN Corporation, Belmont, Massachusetts

Esther Thelen,

Department of Psychology, Indiana University

Richard F. Thompson,

Neuroscience Program, University of Southern California

William A. Yost,

Parmly Hearing Institute, Loyola University Chicago

Christine R. Hartel, Director

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. The Aging Mind: Opportunities in Cognitive Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9783.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. The Aging Mind: Opportunities in Cognitive Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9783.
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Preface

Over the past decade, the fields of cognitive science and neuroscience have made major contributions to the study of human cognition. In doing so, these fields have become increasingly interdependent. Arguably, nowhere have these gains been more relevant and substantial than in the areas of cognitive and neuroscience research on aging. Understanding how and why cognitive functioning changes with age offers great promise for improving the lives of older citizens in the United States, who are a growing segment of the population. Recognizing the urgency and the importance of these lines of research to a rapidly aging society, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) called for a "reappraisal of research opportunities that will further our understanding of how cognition develops and changes with age" (statement of Ronald Abeles, NIA, to the National Research Council Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences, August 11, 1998).

In early 1999, the NIA asked the National Research Council (NRC) to evaluate the field of cognitive aging in order to identify areas of opportunity in which additional research would substantially improve basic understanding of cognitive functioning in aging, by drawing on recent developments in behavioral science, cognitive science, and neuroscience that are not yet fully applied to this subject area. The NRC, through the Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences, created the Committee on Future Directions for Cognitive Research on Aging to undertake this task. The committee, which I had the honor of chairing, was asked to identify a small number of significant and promising research opportunities in cognition and aging in neuroscience, cognitive science, and behavioral science, in some cases empha-

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. The Aging Mind: Opportunities in Cognitive Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9783.
×

sizing research opportunities that would have the added benefit of linking these three approaches in new ways.

The committee was asked to work very quickly. It held three meetings in June, August, and November 1999, at which it identified a variety of possible research opportunities and considered the promise of each. Without exception, every member of the committee worked diligently toward the requested end. Through informal processes of consultation and deliberation, the committee arrived at its consensus recommendations to the NIA. As the committee considered priorities, it invited the input of a number of outside specialists representing critical areas to make possible a deeper discussion of the more promising areas of opportunity. Some of the guests of the committee discussed these areas at the August meeting and at a committee-sponsored workshop in November 1999. Committee members were, to a person, dedicated scientists concerned about the future of their fields and even more so about the future of the rapidly maturing population.

Richard J. Hodes, director of the NIA, deserves substantial praise for requesting this report. The committee thanks Ronald Abeles, now special assistant to the director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research at the National Institutes of Health, for his stewardship as the NIA project officer in support of the study. The committee is also grateful for their efforts and support to Marcelle Morrison-Bogorad, NIA associate director for neuroscience and neuropsychology of aging, and Richard Suzman, NIA associate director for behavioral and social research as well as to Jared Jobe, Andrew Monjan, and Molly Wagster, program officers for the NIA's cognitive research programs.

The committee also received exceptionally wise counsel from Barbara Torrey, executive director of the National Research Council's Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, for which we are deeply grateful. Cecilia Rossiter, the project assistant for the committee, was not only efficient and considerate but went far above and beyond the call of duty by offering insights into the report as well. The committee also owes thanks to Christine McShane, who provided thorough, constructive, and efficient editing for the entire volume, and to Carrie Muntean, who readied the manuscript for publication.

However, there is one person and one person alone who made this report possible in the very short time frame allocated. That person is study director Paul Stern. His ability to listen astutely, to integrate committee generated ideas effectively, and to write skillfully and efficiently, allowed us to proceed within the time constraints of our task. Although I owe my deepest thanks to all of the committee members who took up this work, the report you read herein would not exist without Paul Stern.

We also owe special thanks to several experts from outside the committee whose input was valuable. Prominent among these individuals are the au-

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. The Aging Mind: Opportunities in Cognitive Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9783.
×

thors of the seven background papers for the committee, which appear in Appendixes A-G: John Morrison of Mount Sinai School of Medicine; Carl Cotman of the University of California, Irvine; Ellen Peters, Melissa L. Finucane, Donald MacGregor, and Paul Slovic of Decision Research; Donald Fisher of the University of Massachusetts; Shari Waldstein of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Shinobu Kitayama of Kyoto University; and Thomas Albright of the Salk Institute. In addition, we benefited considerably from the comments and presentations by John Breitner of Johns Hopkins University, John Desmond of Stanford University, Roger A. Dixon of the University of Victoria, Ronald McKay of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, John Nesselroade of the University of Virginia, Christian Pike of the University of Southern California, Susan Resnick of the National Institute on Aging, and Esther Thelen of Indiana University, all of whom influenced the committee in important ways.

This report and the background papers in the appendixes have been reviewed by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council's Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review was to provide candid and critical comments that would assist the institution in making the published report as accurate and as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscripts remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.

We wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: Marilyn S. Albert, Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School; Fredda Blanchard-Fields, School of Psychology, Georgia Institute of Technology; Fergus Craik, Department of Psychology, University of Toronto; William Estes, Department of Psychology, University of Indiana; Donald L. Fisher, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Massachusetts; John Gabrieli, Department of Psychology, Stanford University; Arthur Kramer, Beckman Institute, University of Illinois; Leah L. Light, Department of Psychology, Pitzer College; Richard Shiffrin, Department of Psychology, Indiana University; and Arthur Wingfield, Department of Psychology and Volen National Center for Complex Systems, Brandeis University.

We also wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of the seven papers included as appendices in this volume: Merrill F. Elias, Department of Psychology, University of Maine; John Gabrieli, Department of Psychology, Stanford University; Andrea LeBlanc, Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, McGill University; George Loewenstein, Department of Social and Decision Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University; Denise Park, Institute for Social Research, Research Center for Group

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. The Aging Mind: Opportunities in Cognitive Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9783.
×

Dynamics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; William Rouse, Enterprise Support Systems; and Wendy Suzuki, Center for Neural Science, New York University.

Although the individuals listed above provided constructive comments and suggestions, it must be emphasized that responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution; responsibility for the papers in the appendices rests entirely with their authors.

The committee has identified some key research directions that will, if vigorously pursued, lead to sharply increased understanding of cognitive change in older adults and new opportunities to improve their functioning and quality of life.

Laura L. Carstensen, Chair

Committee on Future Directions for Cognitive Research on Aging

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the Aging Mind

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Possible new breakthroughs in understanding the aging mind that can be used to benefit older people are now emerging from research. This volume identifies the key scientific advances and the opportunities they bring. For example, science has learned that among older adults who do not suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, cognitive decline may depend less on loss of brain cells than on changes in the health of neurons and neural networks. Research on the processes that maintain neural health shows promise of revealing new ways to promote cognitive functioning in older people. Research is also showing how cognitive functioning depends on the conjunction of biology and culture. The ways older people adapt to changes in their nervous systems, and perhaps the changes themselves, are shaped by past life experiences, present living situations, changing motives, cultural expectations, and emerging technology, as well as by their physical health status and sensory-motor capabilities. Improved understanding of how physical and contextual factors interact can help explain why some cognitive functions are impaired in aging while others are spared and why cognitive capability is impaired in some older adults and spared in others. On the basis of these exciting findings, the report makes specific recommends that the U.S. government support three major new initiatives as the next steps for research.

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