Functions Showing Little Change with Aging

Fortunately, not all of the news regarding aging and cognition is bad. Several cognitive functions are relatively impervious to aging. Vocabulary, verbal comprehension, and recognition memory are preserved well into the later years (Bieliauskas, 2001; Kaufman, 1990). Accuracy of recall is more similar among older and younger persons than is speed of recall (Bieliauskas, 2001). In addition, elderly subjects do not show rapid forgetting when allowed to learn tasks to predetermined criteria (Rybarczyk et al., 1987), and they perform well on tests of implicit and autobiographical memory (Cavanaugh and Blanchard-Fields, 2002; Fleischman and Gabrelli, 1998). In addition, performance of familiar, that is, crystallized, tasks is better preserved than performance of novel or unfamiliar tasks. Simple attention is also typically well preserved in older adults (Cavanaugh and Blanchard-Fields, 2002). While some behavioral changes are common in aging, basic personality structures are quite stable over time (Cavanaugh and Blanchard-Fields, 2002). Finally, younger and older adults demonstrate equal ability at solving everyday life problems based on practical knowledge and experience, a skill described as "wisdom" (Baltes and Staudinger, 2000).

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