German & Hehman (2005) conducted a study to access whether there were differences in the “theory of mind” of younger and older individuals. They wanted to understand whether their capacity to understand others motives, reactions, and thoughts would decline with age. Participants consisted of 27 young adults ( 18 females, 9 males) ages 18-26, and 29 elderly adults ( 19 females, 1 male) ages 62-90. They completed a series of tests, including proxy measures of crystallized intelligence (Mill Hill vocabulary test) and pre-morbid verbal IQ (Wechsler test of adult reading). In addition to these general tests, they measured memory span by method of the forward digit span task, and working memory by method of the backward digit span. Each participant received a series of belief-desire reasoning problems, and a series of problems with no mental state content. Participants received either the mental state or control version of a given story problem, and received a total of two tasks with each content type. Participants were tested individually, and as hypothesized, older participants did poorly on all the tests.
Brown & Riddenrinkhof (2009) wanted to test the hypothesis that aging is associated with neurocognitive change, and that decision-making abilities would decline with age. One of the models to explain decisions related to outcomes is the subjective expected utility model, which defines the utility attached to each given outcome as the product of the probability and the value of that outcome (Brown & Riddenrinkhof, 2009). Therefore, when one is making a decision one evaluates the possible outcomes and then makes a rational decision by accessing which one is the better one. This article reviewed the literature that exists, and found that there are several neural pathways that decay with age. It was found that reward-based decision making depends mainly on a reward system that includes dopamine projections to other areas of the cortex (Brown & Riddenrinkhof,...
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