Accessibility navigation


Advanced aging enhances the positivity effect in memory: due to cognitive control or age-related decline in emotional processing?

Sakaki, M., Raw, J., Findlay, J. and Thottam, M. (2019) Advanced aging enhances the positivity effect in memory: due to cognitive control or age-related decline in emotional processing? Collabra: Psychology. ISSN 2474-7394 (In Press)

[img] Text - Accepted Version
· Restricted to Repository staff only
· The Copyright of this document has not been checked yet. This may affect its availability.

371kB

It is advisable to refer to the publisher's version if you intend to cite from this work. See Guidance on citing.

Abstract/Summary

Older adults typically remember more positive than negative information compared to their younger counterparts; a phenomenon referred to as the ‘positivity effect.’ According to the socioemotional selectivity theory (SST), the positivity effect derives from the age-related motivational shift towards attaining emotionally meaningful goals which become more important as the perception of future time becomes more limited. Cognitive control mechanisms are critical in achieving such goals and therefore SST predicts that the positivity effect is associated with preserved cognitive control mechanisms in older adults. In contrast, the aging-brain model suggests that the positivity effect is driven by an age-related decline in the amygdala which is responsible for emotional processing and emotional learning. The aim of the current research was to address whether the age-related positivity effect is associated with cognitive control or impaired emotional processing associated with aging. We included older old adults, younger old adults and younger adults and tested their memory for emotional stimuli, cognitive control and amygdala-dependent fear conditioned responses. Consistent with prior research, older adults, relative to younger adults, demonstrate better memory for positive over negative images. We further found that within a group of older adults, the positivity effect increases as a function of age, such that older old adults demonstrated a greater positivity effect compared to younger older adults. Furthermore, the positivity effect in older old adults was associated with preserved cognitive control, supporting the prediction of SST. Contrary to the prediction of the aging-brain model, participants across all groups demonstrated similar enhanced skin conductance responses to fear conditioned stimuli – responses known to rely on the amygdala. Our results support SST and suggest that the positivity effect in older adults is achieved by the preserved cognitive control mechanisms and is not a reflection of the impaired emotional function associated with age.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics (CINN)
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Ageing
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Psychopathology and Affective Neuroscience
ID Code:86273
Publisher:University of California Press

University Staff: Request a correction | Centaur Editors: Update this record

Page navigation