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date: 21 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter provides an overview of cognitive changes associated with normal, nonpathological aging. Many aspects of fluid cognition show declines (speed of processing, working memory, divided attention, the size of the attentional field, episodic and prospective memory, fluid intelligence), while some aspects of cognition remain largely intact (lexical processing, familiarity-driven processing, selective attention, semantic memory, and crystallized intelligence). Explanatory frameworks include cognitive explanations (declines in a common factor or the cascading effects of cognitive slowing and working memory deficits), predicated on changes in brain morphology and functioning, as well as in cardiovascular health. Issues of culture are briefly discussed, as well as the disuse hypothesis (an enriched lifestyle is associated with higher levels of cognitive functioning). The chapter ends with an overview of changes in assembled cognition (expertise, creativity, and wisdom) and openings for healthy cognitive aging—the promises of physical fitness, cognitive training, and selective optimization with compensation.

Keywords: aging, disuse, wisdom, plasticity, cognitive slowing

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