Abstract # 6025 Event # 29:

Scheduled for Saturday, September 13, 2014 03:50 PM-04:05 PM: Session 9 (Mary Gay) Symposium


INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES IN COGNITION ACROSS THE LIFESPAN

S. F. Brosnan1,2, M. J. Beran3, L. E. Williams2 and B. J. Wilson4
1Georgia State University, Departments of Psychology & Philosophy, Language Research Center, Atlanta, GA 30303-5010, USA, 2Michale E. Keeling Center for Comparative Medicine and Research, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, 3Language Research Center, Georgia State University, 4Economic Science Institute, Chapman University
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     One critical barrier to quality of life among elderly people is that cognitive function often dramatically declines as individuals age. One question that we are only beginning to understand is the source of this variability: why do some individuals start to decline decades earlier than others? While controlled experiments are difficult in humans, in primates we have the opportunity to understand how cognition changes across the lifespan. In particular, studying captive primates with known histories who have lived in similar environments and had similar life experiences removes much of the social and cultural component of variability in cognitive decline so we can focus on the factors of interest. One emerging factor related to cognitive decline, or the lack thereof, is the quality of individuals’ social relationships. We are interested in how relationship quality influences cognition, as measured through a battery of cognitive and decision-making tasks, across the lifespan and what are the hormonal and immunological correlates of these changes. Primates, due to their extended life histories as compared to most other animals, are a necessary model to explore how to shape healthy aging outcomes in humans, a line of research that will become only more important as people live to older ages and the mean age of the population continues to increase.