Handbook of the Psychology of Aging


Selected Neurobiological and



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Selected Neurobiological and

Sociocultural Influences
I shall next briefly review relevant literature documenting cohort and generational trends in cognition and consider sociocultural and neurobiological influences that have been found to account for inter-individual differences in intra-individual cognitive change. I draw upon the conception ( Gauvain, 1998; Li, 2003;
Tomasello, 1999
) of culture to focus on two socio- cultural domains accumulated cultural resources and concurrent culture-based activities. Expanding upon Li ’ s triarchic view of cultural domains, we view accumulated cultural resources as represented by structural variables such as educational level, occupational status, and ability level. These variables reflect the individuals prior acquisition and accumulation of cultural knowledge and skills. In contrast, the second component of the triarchic view of culture focuses on current activities, habits, and beliefs of the individual that are shaped by concurrent social dynamics and processes. The individuals current activities in domains such as health behaviors, cognitive engagement, and the complexity of ones work tasks are viewed as aspects of social dynamics that impact cognitive functioning and cohort differences in cognition. With regard to neuro- biological influences, we focus on the two domains of chronic diseases and biomarkers, shown in the next section to impact cognitive change in adulthood.



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