A Theory of Cognitive Aging


  • T. Salthouse

Over a half-century of research has documented the fact that people of different ages perform at different levels on a variety of tests of cognitive functioning, and yet there are still no comprehensive theories to account for these phenomena. A Theory of Cognitive Aging is intended to begin intellectual discussion in this area by identifying major issues of controversy, and proposing a particular theoretical interpretation based on the notion that the rate of processing information slows down with increased age. Although still quite preliminary, the theoretical perspective is demonstrated to provide a plausible account for age-related differences in functioning on measures of memory, spatial ability and reasoning. The book has four aims: - To advocate a more explicitly theoretical approach to research in the area of cognitive aging. - To outline three important dimensions along which it is argued that any theory of cognitive aging phenomena must take a position. - To evaluate empirical evidence relevant to specific positions along those dimensions. - To summarize the major concepts of the current theory, and to describe its application to selected findings in the research literature.
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Book information

  • Published: January 1985
  • Imprint: NORTH-HOLLAND
  • ISBN: 978-0-444-87827-4

Table of Contents

1. Introduction. 2. The Nature and Function of Theories. 3. Development of Theories of Development. 4. The Information-Processing Framework. 5. Experience and Expertise. 6. General Methodological Issues. 7. Requirements of a Cognitive Aging Theory. 8. The Speed Factor in Cognition. 9. The Speed Factor in Cognitive Aging. 10. The Processing Rate Theory of Cognitive Aging. 11. Memory Abilities. 12. Perceptual-Spatial Abilities. 13. Reasoning Abilities. 14. Implications and Future Directions. References. Index.