A Diminished State Space View of Cognitive Aging – Fight Aging!

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One can measure aging from the bottom up, looking at the most fundamental changes in cell and tissue biochemistry, or one can measure aging from the top down, looking at decline in specific high-level capabilities of the individual. For the two approaches to meet in the middle remains a distant prospect for even simple tissues, never mind the most complex organs, such as the brain. Therapies to reverse aging will be a going concern long before aging is completely mapped, top to bottom. As an example of starting at the top, in a very conceptual way, one might look at the paper here, and its view of one specific aspect of cognitive aging.



Many new technologies, such as smartphones, computers, or public-access systems (like ticket-vending machines), are a challenge for older adults. One feature that these technologies have in common is that they involve underlying, partially observable, structures (state spaces) that determine the actions that are necessary to reach a certain goal (e.g., to move from one menu to another, to change a function, or to activate a new service).



In this work we provide a theoretical, neurocomputational account to explain these behavioral difficulties in older adults. Based on recent findings from age-comparative computational- and cognitive-neuroscience studies, we propose that age-related impairments in complex goal-directed behavior result from an underlying deficit in the representation of state spaces of cognitive tasks. Furthermore, we suggest that these age-related deficits in adaptive decision-making are due to impoverished neural representations in the orbitofrontal cortex and hippocampus.


Link: https://doi.org/10.1177/17456916231204811

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