New study examines memory, learning and aging

August 20, 2007

Many older people complain about their memory as they age. With almost 35 million adults age 65 or older living in the United States, it is a problem that needs to be addressed.

“On average, memory does decline as we get older, but that doesn't mean we can't improve our memory abilities with a little focused effort,” says Dr. John Dunlosky, Kent State professor of psychology and associate editor of Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition.

In a recent Psychology and Aging study funded by the National Institute on Aging, Dunlosky and colleagues examined whether aging affects metacomprehension, or the ability to judge your own comprehension and learning of text materials.

They found that while judgments for both younger and older adults were significantly related to how easily they could process the information, the difference between the two groups did not differ significantly. Thus, aging does not seem to affect people’s ability to judge their own learning of text materials.

These findings support the idea that if people have the ability to self-evaluate their learning process accurately, they also can regulate their learning more effectively. To help healthy adults aged 60-75 years old, Dunlosky and colleagues have created a memory intervention program that helps them learn more quickly and competently using self-evaluation tools.

Source: Kent State University

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