Representation and Aging

Deborah M. Burke

in Lifespan Cognition

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780195169539
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199847204 | DOI:
Representation and Aging

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Older adults show declines in the ability to create new representations. This aging pattern provides the foundation for theories of adult development that postulate two distinct components of cognition: fluid versus crystallized intelligence or the related dichotomy of mechanics versus pragmatics of intelligence. At the heart of this two-component approach is the belief that existing knowledge representations—the basis for crystallized intelligence/cognitive pragmatics are insensitive to aging, whereas cognitive mechanics—that is, cognitive processes that underlie new learning—for example, decline with aging. This theoretical approach is the developmental inverse of Jean Piaget's theory because it postulates stability of representations and age-related modification of processes that act on these representations. This chapter examines shifts in cognitive performance during adulthood that suggest changes in mental representation, as well as the cognitive mechanisms that are responsible for these changes, especially when they are domain specific. It also consider the relevance of these cognitive mechanisms for the development of mental representation during childhood.

Keywords: mental representations; aging; cognition; intelligence; mechanics; pragmatics; knowledge representations; stability; cognitive performance; childhood

Chapter.  9406 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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