Age-related changes in ongoing thought relate to external context and individual cognition

Turnbull, Adam, Poerio, Giulia L., Ho, Nerissa SP., Martinon, Léa M., Riby, Leigh, Lin, Feng V., Jefferies, Elizabeth and Smallwood, Jonathan (2021) Age-related changes in ongoing thought relate to external context and individual cognition. Consciousness and Cognition, 96. p. 103226. ISSN 1053-8100

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Understanding how age-related changes in cognition manifest in the real world is an important goal. One means of capturing these changes involves “experience sampling” participant’s self-reported thoughts. Research has shown age-related changes in ongoing thought: e.g., older adults have fewer thoughts unrelated to the here-and-now. However, it is currently unclear how these changes reflect cognitive aging or lifestyle changes. 78 younger adults and 35 older adults rated their thought contents along 20 dimensions and the difficulty of their current activity in their daily lives. They also performed cognitive tasks in the laboratory. In a set of exploratory analyses, we found that older adults spent more time thinking positive, wanted thoughts, particularly in demanding contexts, and less time mind wandering about their future selves. Past-related thought related to episodic memory differently in older and younger adults. These findings inform the use of experience sampling to understand cognitive aging.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: This project was supported by European Research Council Consolidator awarded to Jonny Smallwood (WANDERINGMINDS – 646927).
Uncontrolled Keywords: Mind wandering, Ongoing thought, Aging, Everyday cognition
Subjects: C800 Psychology
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2021 09:28
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2022 08:01

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