Executive Function and Cognitive Aging

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    39 Citations (Scopus)


    Parsimony has led to a search for unifying generic constructs or brain areas that are widely applicable across domains, that is, cognitive aging. From a cognitive perspective, extensive function (EF) features prominently in efforts to understand mechanisms that underlie complex thought and behavior in late life. It coexists with conceptualizations invoking depletion of resources (e.g., processing efficiency or speed) or capacity limitations but as the evidence from neuroimaging becomes more compelling, it is increasingly difficult to invoke a single cognitive primitive to explain behavioral performance. This chapter sets out the basics and encapsulates the nuances of EF by reviewing some of the behavioral and cognitive neuroscience research it has given rise to, and its relevance to the field of cognitive aging. It points out some of the trends emerging in recent literature on the construct and its proposed neurological underpinnings, to set them on the path to exploring aspects most relevant to their own work. It also raises some of the more vexing quandaries that beset the field; and highlights emerging directions in EF research and theorizing. Furthermore, it documents the approaches to EF at the micro-level of fractionated processes, the macro-level of a homunculus-like regulator of cognition, and also at a meso-level of meta-analysis. Finally, sheds light on some possible future directions in this field of study. © 2011

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationHandbook of the Psychology of Aging
    Number of pages14
    ISBN (Print)9780123808820
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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