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Learning, forgetting, and memory development in old age

Applicant Martin Mike
Number 103525
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Gerontopsychologie und Gerontologie Psychologisches Institut Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Psychology
Start/End 01.10.2004 - 31.03.2008
Approved amount 423'511.00
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Keywords (8)

Aging; Memory; Learning; Cognition; Old Age; Forgetting; Intraindividual change; Longitudinal study

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
Learning, forgetting, and memory development in old age

The goal of this study is to explain and predict both individualdifferences in developmental changes in memory performance over a periodof 18 months and the individual differences in learning and forgetting intwo groups of 170 persons between 70-75 years of age and 180 personsbetween 80-85 years of age. We will combine a longitudinal approach withtwo measurement occasions, 18 months apart, to assess memory performancechanges between measurement occasions with measurement-intensive repeatedassessments of learning and forgetting within each measurement occasion.

Compared to the traditional analysis of mean changes in memoryperformance, we propose to examine individual differences in learning andforgetting and their relation to individual differences in developmentalchanges of memory performance. This allows to test if changes in cognitiveperformance occur at the same time, to the same degree, and in the samedirection for all individuals of a particular population. In fact,empirical data show that at any age persons may display increasing,stable, or decreasing levels of memory abilities.

The study will be unique in combining a longitudinal design with a focuson individual differences in learning and forgetting and in developmentalchange in learning, forgetting and memory performance. From a theoreticalperspective, the results will determine to which degree memory developmentcan be predicted by current learning or forgetting, and to what degreefuture learning or forgetting can be predicted by prior developmentalchange. From an applied perspective, the results may provide adequateassessments of cognitive change across old age. In addition, theprediction of future learning and forgetting is the basis to determine theoptimal timing of interventions targeting the improvement of cognitivefunctioning across adulthood into old age.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
122613 Longitudinally Correlated Changes in Learning and Cognition in Old Age Across Five Years 01.01.2009 Project funding (Div. I-III)