Does intrinsic motivation become more influential as we age? (Julia Spaniol)

Motivation, the drive to expend effort towards a goal, shapes cognitive engagement and performance across the lifespan. Motivation can be either intrinsic (derived from personal goals and interests) or extrinsic (linked to instrumental reward or punishment). Successful aging may depend in no small measure on individuals’ motivation to initiate and sustain mentally challenging activities on a regular basis. Yet, dopaminergic and noradrenergic circuits critical for motivated cognition tend to show widespread decline in older adults. In this talk I review evidence from behavioral, ERP, and fMRI studies that support the hypothesis that the influence of extrinsic motivation on neurocognitive performance fades whereas intrinsic motivation becomes more influential as we age. I will also briefly discuss open questions for research on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and cognition in aging, as well as potential real-world implications of this research.

Behavioral and brain bases of spatial memory deficits in aging (Lauren Richmond)

Older adults are known to have more difficulty with spatial navigation and spatial memory than younger adults on average, but the reason for this age-related decrement in this type of skill is poorly understood. However, there is a large degree of inter-individual variability in this type of skill even in healthy younger samples. Using a novel naturalistic task to test spatial memory, behavioral data comparing younger and older adult performance on a variety of spatial memory measures will be discussed, as well as the neural basis for successful spatial memory performance in older adults.

Register for the webinar here:

Date: Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Time: 2:00 – 3:30 PM EST

Webinar 1: Julia Spaniol and Lauren Richmond