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Cognitive gerontology is a subfield of gerontology concerned with investigating the cognitive changes that come with aging.

There is a general appreciation that there is a notable cognitive deterioration that accompanies later life. For example memory fails, information processing is prone to errors etc. Investigators in cognitive gerontology work to explore this in detail, deliniating the causes of deficits and focusing on four main questions:

  • When do the changes first begin
  • Do individuals change at the same rate?
  • Do mental abilities decline at the same rate
  • Do all individuals show the same patterns of change in abiliies.

Causes of cognitive deficits in older adultsEdit

Rabbit et al, 2005, reporting on their longitudinal study, concluded that it is likely that most of the cognitive changes identified in their volunteeers was due to the occurence of illnesses which were severe enough kill them or to cause them to withdraw from the research. They found that cardiovascular problems {particularly if associated with diabetes} and infections were linked to the most decline.

Onset of cognitive deficitsEdit

There is evidence that cognitive decline starts early. For example Rabbitt et al, 1989 demonstrated that 30-35 year old, fit men were much less competent at learning and playing a novel complex video game than those aged 18-25.

Rates of cognitive declineEdit

In their longitudinal study Rabbit et al, 2000 reported that individuals abilities decline at different rates and that the variance increases with age within populations. So the difference between the most and least able 50-year-olds is less than the differences amongst 70-year-olds

Hearing and agingEdit

Vision and agingEdit

  • Rabbitt, R (1999). Measurement indices, functional characteristics and psychometric constructs in cognitive ageing. In TJ. Perfea and E.A. Maylor (Eds) Models of cognitive aging. Oxford University Press. Oxford.

See alsoEdit

References & BibliographyEdit

Key textsEdit


  • Backman,L. & Rabbit, Patrick (1990) Cognitive Gerontology. ISBN 9780863771576
  • Perfea,T.J. and Maylor,E.A. (Eds) Models of Cognitive Aging. Oxford University Press.
  • Rabbitt, Patrick (2005). Cognitive Gerontology. ISBN 9781841699813, ISBN-10 1841699810
  • Rabbitt, Patrick (2008). Psychology of Ageing. Routledge. ISBN 9780415429894, ISBN-10 0415429897


Additional materialEdit



External linksEdit

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