A new special issue of the American Psychological Association (APA) journal Neuropsychology is focused on cognitive aging. Recent CHP doctoral graduate, Anna Yam, Ph.D., is the lead author on the lead paper in that special issue. The paper challenged the conventional assumption that everyday cognitive tasks (e.g., finding a number in a phone book; correctly paying a utility bill) remain relatively stable across later adulthood. The study found a strong association with reasoning ability, suggesting that decline in executive function might play a greater role in limitations of daily activities associated with aging than memory decline.
The paper is a testament to persistence. Emerging from Dr. Yam’s Masters thesis (which was a secondary analysis of the NIH-funded ACTIVE trial, a ten-year longitudinal study of older adults, many of whom had received cognitive training; her mentor, Dr. Michael Marsiske, was a Principal Investigator), the paper was initially submitted to another journal, and was recommended to undergo extensive revisions. Ms. Yam spent the next year learning, with Dr. Marsiske’s guidance, advanced longitudinal data analysis techniques. The resulting paper was submitted to, and accepted by, Neuropsychology.
The full contents of the special issue can be found at http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/special/2182806.aspx . There is also a featured article on the Neuropsychology special issue in the February 2015 APA Monitor at http://www.apa.org/monitor/2015/02/aging-brains.aspx . The Monitor further highlights the key findings of the paper.