1. Internet use in old age predicts smaller cognitive decline only in men
Nowadays, more and more older adults are using modern technologies like the Internet. From a neuropsychological public health perspective, this development is remarkable because Internet use provides cognitive stimulation and thereby may contribute to the accumulation of the so-called “cognitive reserve” that is proposed to be instrumental for maintaining cognitive health in aging. In this study, we examined possible gender differences and found that more frequent Internet use in the first wave of data collection significantly predicted a smaller subsequent cognitive decline over six years only in men, but not in women.
Ihle, A., Bavelier, D., Maurer, J., Oris, M., & Kliegel, M. (2020). Internet use in old age predicts smaller cognitive decline only in men. Scientific Reports, 10: 8969. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-65846-9
2. A Mixed-Method Study on Strategies in Every-Day Personal Goals among Community-Dwelling Older Adults:
The implementation of positive adaptation strategies may explain how many individuals counteract losses and their limited resources in old and very-old age, hereby maintaining high levels of well-being and daily-life functioning. In the study, we conducted semi-structured interviews, asking participants to describe their goals and how they manage to achieve them despite age-related difficulties. Instances of selection, optimization and compensation (SOC) strategies spontaneously emerged from participants' speeches as a mean to achieve every-day personal goals and maintain well-being. Although it is well known that preference for SOC strategies is associated with indicators of successful aging and well-being, very little is known about what predicts their use as goal-management strategies in the daily-lives of older adults. The present results show that poorer objective cognitive status and subjective health are both linked to increased reliance on compensation (e.g., use external aids, modify one's environment or increase planning and/or time-investment) - but not on selection or optimization - in order to preserve well-being. We discuss the absence of conclusive effects regarding selection in this study in light of the distinction between elective and loss-based selection.
Joly-Burra, E., Van der Linden, M., & Ghisletta, P. (in press). A Mixed-Method Study on Strategies in Every-Day Personal Goals among Community-Dwelling Older Adults. Gerontology.
3. I could do it now, but I’d rather (forget to) do it later: Examining links between procrastination and prospective memory failures:
In this study, we examined whether postponing tasks (=procrastination) could lead to forgetting to perform those tasks later on (=failures of prospective memory). Specifically, we assessed how participants perceived their own procrastination habits, how long they postponed a procrastination task, and how many prospective memory tasks they forgot to perform in their everyday life. Results showed that procrastination is indeed associated to forgetting, and that this association is particularly strong when individuals are not aware of their procrastination habits. These findings suggest that when we spontaneously remember a task, it may be better to perform it immediately (rather than to postpone it) or we may forget about it later.
Zuber, S., Ballhausen, N., Haas, M., Cauvin, S., Da Silva Coelho, C., Daviet, A.-S., Ihle, A., & Kliegel, M. (2020). I could do it now, but I’d rather (forget to) do it later: Examining links between procrastination and prospective memory failures. Psychological Research. doi: 10.1007/s00426-020-01357-6 ResearchGate full-text view-only version PDF of pre-print
4. Interactional effects between relational and cognitive reserves on decline in executive functioning:
In this study, we investigated associations of cognitive reserve (as indicated by education) and relational reserve (as indicated by the family network size and indices of emotional support) to decline in executive functioning over six years as measured by changes in Trail Making Test (TMT) completion time in older adults and whether education and network size interacted with age and sex as covariates with respect to this longitudinal association. Results revealed a significant interaction of network size in the first wave of data assessment with education. Specifically, for lower levels of cognitive reserve (-1 SD of education), the longitudinal association between relational reserve in the first wave and subsequent changes in executive functioning was not significant. In contrast, for higher levels of cognitive reserve (+1 SD of education), a higher relational reserve in the first wave significantly predicted a smaller subsequent increase in TMT completion time from the first to the second wave (i.e., a smaller decline in executive functioning). Thereby, the present longitudinal study provides evidence for the interaction between cognitive and relational reserves. This confirms the hypothesis that reserves from different domains are intertwined and their combined effects contribute to less cognitive decline in old age.
Sauter, J., Widmer, E., Baeriswyl, M., Ballhausen, N., Vallet, F., Fagot, D., Kliegel, M., & Ihle, A. (in press). Interactional effects between relational and cognitive reserves on decline in executive functioning. Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences.
5. Prospective Memory Errors in Everyday Life: Does Instruction Matter?
In this study, younger and older individuals filled out a diary over five days. They wrote down whether they had forgotten to perform any of their planned tasks, but also whether they encountered any other memory or cognitive problems. Results show 1) that for both age groups forgetting planned tasks was more frequent than memory or cognitive problems, and 2) that older individuals did not forget more than younger individuals did.
Haas, M., Zuber, S., Kliegel, M., & Ballhausen, N. (2020). Prospective Memory Errors in Everyday Life: Does Instruction Matter? Memory, 28(2), 196-203. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2019.1707227
New team members & staff
Emilie Joly-Burra: Emilie started as post-doc in the NCCR LIVEs in January 2020; she’s part of the IP3 (Life-course mechanisms of vulnerability in old age: The role of multidomain reserves) and CCI4 (Advances in methodology for research on life course and vulnerability). Within this project, she will specialise in multivariate longitudinal modelling of psychological resources (IP3) and dynamic structural equation modelling (CCI4). Her research notably focuses on (a) intra-individual variability, cognition and functional outcomes, and (b) well-being, personal goals and cognitive, motivational and health-related obstacles to goal achievement.
Chloé Da Silva Coelho: Chloé started her position as a PhD student in January 2020 after obtaining her Master’s degree in Clinical and Affective Psychology at the University of Geneva. Her research focuses on the clinical aspects of cognitive aging, more specifically on the validation of a screening tool for dementia, on an epidemiological study of dementia, and on the link between prospective memory and emotions in Parkinson's disease.