Director: Sharon A. Mutter, Ph.D.
The long-term objective of my research is to gain a greater understanding of older adults’ sensitivity to environmental contingencies, including their ability to acquire and retrieve contingency knowledge and their ability to use this knowledge for judgment and prediction. My current research program addresses this objective in several ways. First, it seeks to integrate theories from cognitive aging and contingency learning and judgment. For example, we are conducting studies in my laboratory that address how age-related changes in associative memory affect the acquisition and use of contingency and causal relationships. Second, my research program seeks to provide a comprehensive and systematic assessment of older adults’ contingency and causal learning and judgment. We are therefore obtaining both descriptive information on how older adults' contingency and causal learning differs from that of young adults as well as explanatory information on how age-related changes in basic learning and memory processes contribute to this difference. In addition, we are now beginning to explore whether age - related changes in causal and contingency learning tasks are reflected in ERP correlates of associative learning.