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How Memory and Intelligence Change as We Age Essay

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Updated: May 16th, 2021

Introduction

The paper is focused on memory and intelligence along with their age-related changes. Thus, the major concepts that will be discussed are memory, intelligence, and age. Memory is defined as the ability to remember things, people, and experiences. Intelligence is one’s skill to understand, think, and learn things, and aging is the process of becoming older. The central argument of the paper is that intelligence and memory change considerably across the lifespan, but these alterations are different in the two concepts.

Theories of Human Development

The selected topic is associated with the cognitive and emotional domains of human development. The concepts of memory and intelligence have been reflected in the works of prominent psychologists. In Piaget’s theory, intelligence is considered not as a fixed characteristic of an individual but as a process happening due to one’s biological maturation (Shriner & Shriner, 2014). There is a close relationship between intelligence and cognition since the ability to think and learn is the manifestation of one’s cognitive abilities. Piaget’s stages of development, as well as Vygotsky’s social theory, are concerned with childhood age (Shriner & Shriner, 2014).

During each of these phases, there are specific skills and abilities that a child evolves in regard to intelligence and memory, such as scaffolding, repeating, and developing habits. It is crucial to pay attention to historical and cultural perspectives of the concepts of memory and intelligence in different cultures. For instance, in the past, people did not have notebooks to write down some important data to remember, and they used to tie knots or make cuts in a tree. Another example is training memory by repeating ancestors” names in some indigenous cultures.

Although renowned psychologists focused their research on the early stages of life, it is important to trace the differences in human memory and intelligence that develop with aging. In their study focused on the changes in memory across the lifespan, Ofen and Shing (2013) remark that age-related alterations in memory systems’ neural regions are noted already at the perceptual level. When a person becomes older, his or her neural representations turn to be less distinctive.

This phenomenon is defined as “dedifferentiation” (Ofen & Shing, 2013, p. 2263). Cognitive processing is reported to deteriorate with age due to the eliminated singularity of stimulus representations (Ofen & Shing, 2013). Another aspect associated with aging is that the capacity for producing new individual images rich in specific details becomes reduced. Therefore, memory is developed at the early stages of development and becomes less acute with aging.

Intelligence, as well as the memory, starts to develop at an early age. Across the lifespan, there is a fall in the developmental dynamics of intelligence (Schalke et al., 2013). According to Schalke et al. (2013), there exist differential stabilities between the age of late childhood (12 years old) and middle adulthood (52 years old). However, scholars note that some aspects of intelligence do not deteriorate when individual ages, but instead, they become enhanced. Thus, unlike memory, intelligence does not tend to become worse with aging.

Conclusion

The evidence found in scholarly articles allows concluding that age-related changes in intelligence and memory have different implications. While memory is reported to deteriorate as the person becomes older, intelligence is noted to develop with age. The two analyzed concepts, which are related to emotional and cognitive psychological domains, play a crucial role in people’s development. It is necessary to continue training memory and cultivate intelligence to avoid the possible negative age-related effects.

Annotated Bibliography

Ofen, N., & Shing, Y. L. (2013). From perception to memory: Changes in memory systems across the lifespan. Neuroscience and Behavioral Reviews, 37, 2258-2267.

The purpose of research in Ofen’s and Shing’s (2013) article is to analyze the changes that occur in human memory with aging. The authors view memory not as a unitary entity but as a concept arising out of a “complex architecture” that involves connections between various representational systems (Ofen & Shing, 2013, p. 2258). The method employed by scholars is the review of the literature. The results of the study suggest an insight into important topics related to memory and the aging process. In particular, it is noted that at a young age, individuals rely on episodic, semantic, and perceptual systems. When a person ages, memory functions are guided mostly by higher-level abstract knowledge and top-down control. The article by Ofen and Shing (2013) is a valuable contribution to the investigation of age-related changes in memory.

Schalke, D., Brunner, M., Geiser, C., Preckel, F., Keller, U., Spengler, M., & Martin, R. (2013). Stability and change in intelligence from age 12 to 52: Results from the Luxembourg MAGRIP study. Developmental Psychology, 49(8), 1529-1543.

The goal of the study performed by Schalke et al. (2013) is the analysis of two aspects related to intellectual development. The first factor is the stability and alterations in the intelligence structure dependent on the “age differentiation-dedifferentiation hypothesis,” and the second aspect involves differential stabilities. (Schalke et al., 2013, p. 1529). The method employed by the authors is a longitudinal study encompassing two points of measurement: 1968 and 2008. The results indicate that there has been a substantial mean increase across the selected period of time. Researchers note that the age differentiation-dedifferentiation hypothesis presupposes that intelligence differentiates during childhood and adolescence, is relatively stable at adult age, and dedifferentiates in old age. However, this hypothesis has been rejected by Schalke et al. (2013) who have found that individuals’ abilities increased with age. Thus, this article is highly important for the analysis of age-related changes in intelligence.

References

Ofen, N., & Shing, Y. L. (2013). From perception to memory: Changes in memory systems across the lifespan. Neuroscience and Behavioral Reviews, 37, 2258-2267.

Schalke, D., Brunner, M., Geiser, C., Preckel, F., Keller, U., Spengler, M., & Martin, R. (2013). Stability and change in intelligence from age 12 to 52: Results from the Luxembourg MAGRIP study. Developmental Psychology, 49(8), 1529-1543.

Shriner, B., & Shriner, M. (2014). Essentials of lifespan development: A topical approach. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'How Memory and Intelligence Change as We Age'. 16 May.

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