Article

Social Media Bytes: Daily Associations Between Social Media Use and Everyday Memory Failures Across the Adult Life Span

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Abstract

Objectives: The prevalence of social media use in daily life is increasing; however, little is known about its cognitive costs and/or benefits. Social media use may help to offload memory to an external resource as well as to facilitate social relations, which could bolster or hinder everyday memory. Further, the relationship between social media use and memory may be moderated by age such that associations-whether positive or negative-could be exacerbated among older adults due to age-related declines. Methods: Using an 8-day daily diary study from the Midlife in the United States Refresher cohort (n = 782, 25-75 years), multilevel models examined the impact of daily social media use, age, and their interaction on same-day and next-day memory failures. Results: The concurrent model revealed that on days when social media use was high, individuals reported more memory failures. The lagged model further revealed that higher previous-day social media use was associated with more memory failures on the subsequent day, controlling for previous-day memory failures. These effects were not moderated by age. Post hoc analyses revealed no evidence of reverse-causation as previous-day memory failures did not predict next-day social media use. Conclusions: Although past research has consistently shown that social engagement is a protective resource for memory, social media use may be a risk factor for memory failures for adults of any age. These findings highlight the growing importance of understanding the implications of social media use.

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... providing more support than one receives in return) are associated with an increased risk in Alzheimer's (Amieva et al., 2010). Furthermore, technologymediated communication, such as social media, has been linked to better memory outcomes over time, as it increases proximity to family and friends to maintain emotional ties (Barnes et al., 2004;Sharifian and Zahodne, 2020). While much of the work in this space has thus far focused on episodic memory or global cognition, some studies have examined executive function-linked processes and capacities related to higher-level fluid reasoning, such as attention, working memory, inhibitory control or cognitive flexibility (Gow et al., 2013;Katz et al., 2020). ...
... Similarly, the increasing use of social media among older adults has led researchers to investigate the effects of communication technologies on cognition. Measures of cognitive function, such as everyday memory failures and global cognition, may be both positively and negatively linked to social media use during ageing (Kim and Kim, 2014;Sharifian and Zahodne, 2020). It is possible that social media may buffer the age-related impact on memory decline by acting as an 'external memory resource' (Sharifian and Zahodne, 2020: 542); however, consistent reliance on social media for memory storage may also pose challenges for cognitive functioning. ...
... Lastly, we expected (H5) to see quadratic effects for these outcomes, particularly within the cognitive measure, such that both too little, as well as too much, communication technology usage might be related to reduced cognitive performance. Specifically, it is possible that too little usage might not provide sufficient enrichment, but too much may also lead to 'technology overload' (Sharifian and Zahodne, 2020). Technology overload refers to excessive or above optimal use of technology which can cause negative consequences . ...
Article
Affect and cognition have both been associated with communication across one's social network during ageing. Thus, it is important to consider how communication varies by different aspects of one's social network, and by communication mode, including phone, email and social media. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between technology-mediated communication, depression and an executive function-related fluid-reasoning measure among older adults. Data were drawn from the Health and Retirement dataset's 2016 wave. Hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to examine the link between communication modes (phone, email and social media) with children, family and friends with a fluid-reasoning cognition measure and Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, controlling for demographic covariates, among 3,798 older American adults. Phone and email communication, but not social media, were significantly related to depression and cognition. The model fit was considerably stronger for the analyses with cognition than depression. Curvilinear associations were found for communication via phone and email with cognition, suggesting moderate amounts of communication by phone and email across social groups were most closely linked with higher scores on fluid reasoning. For depression, curvilinear relationships were found for talking on the phone with family and friends, and emailing for children and family, indicating that moderate communication levels revealed the lowest depression levels. Implications for how older adults’ social support may contribute to depression and cognition status are discussed.
... Although some studies have reported that social media use may impede memory performance [19][20][21], a growing body of research has suggested that the use of social media can yield a variety of beneficial effects, such as convenient access to information [22], enhanced connectiveness and social engagement [16,23], increased perceived social support [24], diminished loneliness [25], and stimulating cognitive activities such as reading, thinking, discussing, and learning [26], all of which have been proven to be protective resources for memory [27,28]. Indeed, an abundant literature has reported that social media usage is positively correlated with memory performance [29][30][31]. ...
... This finding suggests that social media users remember more past events than non-users, and it extends previous studies suggesting that social media usage exerts beneficial effects on the cognitive functions of older adults [29][30][31]. However, it should be noted that due to the opposing findings produced by existing studies, the results of the current study also oppose the findings of previous studies [19,21]. For example, through both naturalistic and controlled studies, Tamir and colleagues found that individuals who recorded and shared their experiences using social media displayed poorer memory performance than those who did not use social media [21]. ...
Article
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... These findings applied to both quality/clarity of memory recollection as well as quantity of memories stored [16][17][18]. Second, emotional disorders such as depression, insomnia and stress were also shown to have deleterious consequences on our memory function [19,20]. ...
... Our study focused on the effects of problematic social media use on memory performance. In agreement with other studies, the results revealed a clear correlation coupling higher social network sites (SNS) use to lower memory work [16,17,[43][44][45][46]. Literature displayed a modest amount of articles that interpreted this relationship. ...
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... Prior work has examined the correlation between phone use and social connection, enjoyment, and engagement using a combination of observational studies, retrospective reports, and experimental manipulation of phone use (Barasch et al., 2018;Choi & Toma, 2014;David & Roberts, 2017;Diehl et al., 2016;McDaniel & Coyne, 2016;Misra et al., 2016;Przybylski & Weinstein, 2013;Roberts & David, 2016;Sharifian & Zahodne, 2020;Stothart et al., 2015;Tamir et al., 2018;Wang et al., 2017;Ward et al., 2017). However, no study to date has experimentally examined why people continue to use their phones, despite the negative outcomes. ...
Article
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... As a result, people rely on the Internet as an external memory aid for information at the expense of their own memory for the information (Ferguson et al., 2015;Kahn & Martinez, 2020;Sparrow et al., 2011;Storm et al., 2017). Social media use has also been negatively associated with general memory functioning and cognitive performance (Hou et al., 2019;Sharifian & Zahodne, 2020;Ward et al., 2017). However, these lines of research have focused on memory for factual knowledge or public information. ...
Article
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... As a result, people rely on the Internet as an external memory aid for information at the expense of their own memory for the information (Ferguson et al., 2015;Kahn & Martinez, 2020;Sparrow et al., 2011;Storm et al., 2017). Social media use has also been negatively associated with general memory functioning and cognitive performance (Hou et al., 2019;Sharifian & Zahodne, 2020;Ward et al., 2017). However, these lines of research have focused on memory for factual knowledge or public information. ...
Preprint
The current study examined the impact of social media as a retrieval context (in contrast to private recall) on the retention of autobiographical memory. At session 1, participants (N = 177) generated recent life events in response to cue words and then described the event details as if they were writing about the events either on WeChat or in their diaries. They received a surprise memory test for the events at session 2 either one week or two weeks later, either with or without the original cue words. Participants in the WeChat condition recalled less consistent memories between the two sessions than those in the diary condition, especially when the memory test took place at the one-week interval and when there were no cues to assist recall at the two-week interval. It appears that memories recalled on social media are subject to greater reconstruction in subsequent offline recall, and that the timing of recall and the presence of memory cues interact with the reconstructive process. These findings shed new light on autobiographical remembering in the digital age.
... Concerns about the possibly harmful effects of media and technology on memory are not unfounded. For example, in an article cited by the 'Ledger of Harms', Sharifian and Zahodne (2020) reported a diary study of adults ranging in age from their 20s to their 70s, and found that on days when they reported high use of social media, participants also reported more everyday memory failures of various kinds. Viewed from the perspective of the seven sins, a question arises regarding the locus of the potential negative impact of the Internet and related forms of technology or media on memory: Which of the seven sins is impacted by technology and media, and how? ...
Article
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Human memory is prone to error and distortion. It has been proposed that memory's misdeeds can be classified into seven categories or ‘sins’. This article discusses the impact of media and technology on four memory sins: transience (forgetting over time), absent-mindedness (lapses in attention that produce forgetting), misattribution (attributing a memory to the wrong source), and suggestibility (implanted memories). Growing concerns have been expressed about the negative impact of media and technology on memory. With respect to transience, I review research regarding the impact of the Internet (ie, Google), GPS, and photographs. Studies have documented impaired memory following specific tasks on which people rely on media/technology (eg, poor memory for a route after using GPS), but have revealed little evidence for broader impairments (eg, generally impaired memory in GPS users), and have also documented some mnemonic benefits (eg, reviewing photos of past experiences). For absent-mindedness, there is strong evidence that media multitasking is associated with poor memory for a target task (eg, a lecture) because of attentional lapses, suggesting evidence that chronic media multitasking could be associated with broader memory problems, and emerging evidence that technology can help to reduce certain kinds of absent-minded errors. Regarding misattribution and suggestibility, there is clear evidence that manipulated or misleading photos are associated with false memories for personal events and fake news, but no evidence of broader effects on susceptibility to memory distortion. Further study of the impact of media and technology on the memory sins is a fruitful pursuit for interdisciplinary studies.
... inhibitory control). We are aware of only two studies showing that SM use may affect older people's mental health because their use is found to be associated with memory failures (Sharifian and Zahodne, 2020) or poor sleep quality (van der Velden et al., 2019). ...
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Despite older people's increasing use of social media (SM), there is relatively little research investigating the impact of SM use on wellbeing in the ageing population. This study investigates the relationship between SM use and life satisfaction, a key dimension of wellbeing, in three age groups. We focus on the Italian case, which is particularly relevant because Italy is one of the countries both with the highest incidence of older people and the lowest uptake of SM in Europe. Applying linear regression modelling techniques, we analyse data from the 2018 Multipurpose Survey – Aspects of Everyday Living, a large probability-based household survey. For two age groups, we find a positive relationship between SM use and life satisfaction which weakens after controlling for older people's demographic and socio-economic characteristics, health conditions and social network characteristics. Given the grey digital divide that still exists in some European countries, we conclude with a call for urgent interventions to remove the hurdles that prevent frail older people from enjoying the benefits of an active ageing, fully exploiting the potential of SM use.
... Although some evidence suggests that social media may be beneficial for cognition, particularly memory functioning [21,28,44], other reports indicate social media use can result in unintended costs to memory [14]. For example, one study found that on days when social media use was high, individuals reported more memory failures [36]. However, this study utilized self-reported social media use which may not be as accurate as objective measures [20]. ...
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Increased access to electronic devices and the ubiquity of social media has resulted in a rapid rise in the prevalence of students "multitasking" while in a classroom setting. While some data indicate the use of electronic devices in class can improve the classroom environment, other studies demonstrate the opposite finding. Moreover, it remains unclear if using social networking sites such as Instagram impacts performance on cognitive tasks when students are presented new material and, if so, what features of Instagram modulate this response. Therefore, in the current study we examined if social media use during or after being presented new information affected short-term memory in college students. Additionally, we assessed if the type or quantity of topics displayed had a modulatory impact on memory. Forty-five college-aged (18-24 years of age) students completed the Logical Memory Immediate Recall (LM I) component of the Wechsler Memory Scale IV, a measure of auditory recognition memory. Subjects were randomly divided into a group that completed the LM I without distraction (controls), a group that completed the LM I while scrolling through their Instagram feed, or a group that completed the LM I after scrolling through their Instagram feed. Subjects that used Instagram while being presented new information demonstrated worse short-term memory recall ability compared to subjects that did not use Instagram during the presentation (71.56% correct answers vs. 80.89%; p = 0.01). Recall ability in the group that used Instagram after hearing the story was not statistically different from the controls. Differences were not observed in the number of topics appearing in subjects' Instagram feeds and no correlation was found between the number of topics on a subject's Instagram feed and memory recall ability. Collectively, these results suggest that individuals who use their phones to browse Instagram during class or in social settings might have a reduced ability to retain the information given to them when compared to those that are not using their phones scrolling on social media.
... The presence of smartphones nearby in the room impairs performance on working memory tests (Ward, Duke, Gneezy, & Bos, 2017), suggesting that even the potential to disengage may harm one's ability to fully process the current experience. Further, frequent use of social media is associated with poorer academic outcomes (Feng, Wong, Wong, & Hossain, 2019) and with memory failures (Sharifian & Zahodne, 2019). ...
Article
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Technology has the ability to enhance and enrich the lives of older adults by facilitating better interpersonal relationships. However, few studies have directly examined associations between technology use for social reasons and physical and psychological health among older adults. The current study examines the benefits of technology use in 591 older adults from the 2012 wave of the Health and Retirement Study (Mage = 68.18, SD = 10.75; 55.5% female). Social technology use was assessed through five technology-based behaviors (i.e., using e-mail, social networking sites, online video/phone calls, online chatting/instant messaging, using a smartphone). Attitudes toward the usability and benefits of technology use were also assessed. Older adults had generally positive attitudes toward technology. Higher social technology use was associated with better self-rated health, fewer chronic illnesses, higher subjective well-being, and fewer depressive symptoms. Furthermore, each of the links between social technology use and physical and psychological health was mediated by reduced loneliness. Close relationships are a large determinant of physical health and well-being, and technology has the potential to cultivate successful relationships among older adults.
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Social engagement, which is defined as the maintenance of many social connections and a high level of participation in social activities, has been thought to prevent cognitive decline in elderly persons. Associations between a socially engaged lifestyle and higher scores on memory and intelligence tests have been observed among community-dwelling older persons (1–5). Short-term interventions to foster social and intellectual engagement have enhanced cognition among nursing home residents (6) and patients with dementia (7). In animal studies (8), mature rodents exposed to complex social and inanimate environments showed better maze-learning ability than those in sparser surroundings. Social engagement challenges persons to communicate effectively and participate in complex interpersonal exchanges. Besides providing a dynamic environment that requires the mobilization of cognitive faculties, social engagement may also indicate a commitment to community and family and engender a health-promoting sense of purpose and fulfillment. Another putative benefit of social engagement is greater availability of emotional support from relatives and friends. Lack of such support can predict adverse health outcomes (9), but its influence on cognitive decline has not been examined.
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The primary purpose of the study was to examine whether senior citizens’ use of online social networks affect their cognitive function. For this study, 213 senior citizens who are at least 60 years of age and do not have pre-diagnosed Alzheimer's disease (AD) were randomly selected from a variety of local communities such as a non-AD-patient-retirement home. To measure the cognitive function levels of the selected senior citizens, the Mini Mental State Exam (MMSE), which is the most widely used standardized cognitive screening test, was administered to each participant. The results of the study show that seniors’ use of online social networks positively affected their cognitive function levels. Senior citizens who use online social networks had a significantly higher cognitive function level than those who do not use online social networks. In addition, the results show that there was a significant relationship between the number of months for seniors’ use of online social networks and their MMSE scores. Seniors received higher MMSE scores as they use online social networks longer. The results of the study suggest that seniors’ participation in online social networking, which can be cognitively stimulating, is associated with maintenance or even improvement of their cognitive functions and seems to protect against age-related decline of cognitive functions.
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A longitudinal investigation of psychological responses to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks was conducted on a U.S. national probability sample. Using an anonymous Web-based survey methodology, data were collected among over 1,900 adults at 2 weeks and 12 months post-9/11 to consider whether direct and proximal exposure were necessary preconditions for high levels of acute and posttraumatic stress symptoms, and whether greater exposure/proximity led to greater traumatic stress symptoms. Results suggest that the requirement of direct and proximal exposure to the attacks and the expectation of a dose-response relationship between exposure and traumatic stress response are myths.
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Previous research has shown that high levels of Facebook use are associated with lower grades in college students. Divided attention in the form of trying to use Facebook during class or while studying has been suggested as a possible explanation for this finding. In the current study, 44 participants were divided into high and low Facebook users and completed a memory test for 72 words. Participants were not allowed to use Facebook, or any other electronic device, during the study thereby eliminating divided attention between Facebook and the task at hand as a possible explanation for the results. High Facebook users (defined as spending more than one hour a day on Facebook) scored significantly lower on the free recall test than low Facebook users. Possible explanations for this finding are discussed.
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It is widely believed that keeping mentally active will prevent age-related mental decline. The primary prediction of this mental-exercise hypothesis is that the rate of age-related decline in measures of cognitive functioning will be less pronounced for people who are more mentally active, or, equivalently, that the cognitive differences among people who vary in level of mental activity will be greater with increased age. Although many training studies, and comparisons involving experts, people in specific occupations, and people whose mental activity levels are determined by their self-reports, have found a positive relation between level of activity and level of cognitive functioning, very few studies have found an interactive effect of age and mental activity on measures of cognitive functioning. Despite the current lack of empirical evidence for the idea that the rate of mental aging is moderated by amount of mental activity, there may be personal benefits to assuming that the mental-exercise hypothesis is true. © 2006 Association for Psychological Science.
In this monograph, we ask whether various kinds of intellectual, physical, and social activities produce cognitive enrichment effects—that is, whether they improve cognitive performance at different points of the adult life span, with a particular emphasis on old age. We begin with a theoretical framework that emphasizes the potential of behavior to influence levels of cognitive functioning. According to this framework, the undeniable presence of age-related decline in cognition does not invalidate the view that behavior can enhance cognitive functioning. Instead, the course of normal aging shapes a zone of possible functioning, which reflects person-specific endowments and age-related constraints. Individuals influence whether they function in the higher or lower ranges of this zone by engaging in or refraining from beneficial intellectual, physical, and social activities. From this point of view, the potential for positive change, or plasticity, is maintained in adult cognition. It is an argument that is supported by newer research in neuroscience showing neural plasticity in various aspects of central nervous system functioning, neurochemistry, and architecture. This view of human potential contrasts with static conceptions of cognition in old age, according to which decline in abilities is fixed and individuals cannot slow its course. Furthermore, any understanding of cognition as it occurs in everyday life must make a distinction between basic cognitive mechanisms and skills (such as working-memory capacity) and the functional use of cognition to achieve goals in specific situations. In practice, knowledge and expertise are critical for effective functioning, and the available evidence suggests that older adults effectively employ specific knowledge and expertise and can gain new knowledge when it is required. We conclude that, on balance, the available evidence favors the hypothesis that maintaining an intellectually engaged and physically active lifestyle promotes successful cognitive aging. First, cognitive-training studies have demonstrated that older adults can improve cognitive functioning when provided with intensive training in strategies that promote thinking and remembering. The early training literature suggested little transfer of function from specifically trained skills to new cognitive tasks; learning was highly specific to the cognitive processes targeted by training. Recently, however, a new generation of studies suggests that providing structured experience in situations demanding executive coordination of skills—such as complex video games, task-switching paradigms, and divided attention tasks—train strategic control over cognition that does show transfer to different task environments. These studies suggest that there is considerable reserve potential in older adults' cognition that can be enhanced through training. Second, a considerable number of studies indicate that maintaining a lifestyle that is intellectually stimulating predicts better maintenance of cognitive skills and is associated with a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's disease in late life. Our review focuses on longitudinal evidence of a connection between an active lifestyle and enhanced cognition, because such evidence admits fewer rival explanations of observed effects (or lack of effects) than does cross-sectional evidence. The longitudinal evidence consistently shows that engaging in intellectually stimulating activities is associated with better cognitive functioning at later points in time. Other studies show that meaningful social engagement is also predictive of better maintenance of cognitive functioning in old age. These longitudinal findings are also open to important rival explanations, but overall, the available evidence suggests that activities can postpone decline, attenuate decline, or provide prosthetic benefit in the face of normative cognitive decline, while at the same time indicating that late-life cognitive changes can result in curtailment of activities. Given the complexity of the dynamic reciprocal relationships between stimulating activities and cognitive function in old age, additional research will be needed to address the extent to which observed effects validate a causal influence of an intellectually engaged lifestyle on cognition. Nevertheless, the hypothesis that an active lifestyle that requires cognitive effort has long-term benefits for older adults' cognition is at least consistent with the available data. Furthermore, new intervention research that involves multimodal interventions focusing on goal-directed action requiring cognition (such as reading to children) and social interaction will help to address whether an active lifestyle enhances cognitive function. Third, there is a parallel literature suggesting that physical activity, and aerobic exercise in particular, enhances older adults' cognitive function. Unlike the literature on an active lifestyle, there is already an impressive array of work with humans and animal populations showing that exercise interventions have substantial benefits for cognitive function, particularly for aspects of fluid intelligence and executive function. Recent neuroscience research on this topic indicates that exercise has substantial effects on brain morphology and function, representing a plausible brain substrate for the observed effects of aerobic exercise and other activities on cognition. Our review identifies a number of areas where additional research is needed to address critical questions. For example, there is considerable epidemiological evidence that stress and chronic psychological distress are negatively associated with changes in cognition. In contrast, less is known about how positive attributes, such as self-efficacy, a sense of control, and a sense of meaning in life, might contribute to preservation of cognitive function in old age. It is well known that certain personality characteristics such as conscientiousness predict adherence to an exercise regimen, but we do not know whether these attributes are also relevant to predicting maintenance of cognitive function or effective compensation for cognitive decline when it occurs. Likewise, more information is needed on the factors that encourage maintenance of an active lifestyle in old age in the face of elevated risk for physiological decline, mechanical wear and tear on the body, and incidence of diseases with disabling consequences, and whether efforts to maintain an active lifestyle are associated with successful aging, both in terms of cognitive function and psychological and emotional well-being. We also discuss briefly some interesting issues for society and public policy regarding cognitive-enrichment effects. For example, should efforts to enhance cognitive function be included as part of a general prevention model for enhancing health and vitality in old age? We also comment on the recent trend of business marketing interventions claimed to build brain power and prevent age-related cognitive decline, and the desirability of direct research evidence to back claims of effectiveness for specific products.
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Part one of this paper highlights how students today think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors, as a result of being surrounded by new technology. The author compares these “digital natives” with the older generation who are learning and adopting new technology naming them “digital immigrants”.
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How does gaze relate to psychological properties of the gazer? Studies using eye tracking reveal robust group differences in gaze toward emotional information: Optimists gaze less at negative, unpleasant images than do pessimists, and older individuals look away from negative faces and toward happy faces. These group differences appear to reflect an underlying motivation to achieve and maintain good moods by directing attention to mood-facilitating stimuli. Maintaining a positive mood is only one goal-related context that influences visual attention; recent work has also suggested that other goal states can impact gaze. Gaze therefore is a tool of motivation, directing gazers toward stimuli that are consistent with their goals and away from information that will not facilitate goal achievement. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
A longitudinal analysis of panel data from users of a popular online social network site, Facebook, investigated the relationship between intensity of Facebook use, measures of psychological well-being, and bridging social capital. Two surveys conducted a year apart at a large U.S. university, complemented with in-depth interviews with 18 Facebook users, provide the study data. Intensity of Facebook use in year one strongly predicted bridging social capital outcomes in year two, even after controlling for measures of self-esteem and satisfaction with life. These latter psychological variables were also strongly associated with social capital outcomes. Self-esteem served to moderate the relationship between Facebook usage intensity and bridging social capital: those with lower self-esteem gained more from their use of Facebook in terms of bridging social capital than higher self-esteem participants. We suggest that Facebook affordances help reduce barriers that lower self-esteem students might experience in forming the kinds of large, heterogeneous networks that are sources of bridging social capital.
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The relationship between memory performance in everyday life and performance on laboratory tests was investigated in a group of subjects with normal memory and two groups of severely head-injured subjects differing in time since injury (several months vs several years). Everyday memory was assessed using questionnaires and checklists completed by each subject and independently by a relative who was in daily contact with him. Overall, a high degree of consistency was found among these measures, though the lower consistency of the subjects' questionnaire illustrated the problems of validity with self-assessment. The relatives' questionnaire correlated with test performance for normal subjects and for the long-term head-injured group but not for the recently head-injured subjects who had not yet reached a stable state. The highest correlations were with prose recall and paired-associate learning. The absence of correlations with visual memory tests may have been due to low salience of visual errors in everyday life.
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The advent of the Internet, with sophisticated algorithmic search engines, has made accessing information as easy as lifting a finger. No longer do we have to make costly efforts to find the things we want. We can "Google" the old classmate, find articles online, or look up the actor who was on the tip of our tongue. The results of four studies suggest that when faced with difficult questions, people are primed to think about computers and that when people expect to have future access to information, they have lower rates of recall of the information itself and enhanced recall instead for where to access it. The Internet has become a primary form of external or transactive memory, where information is stored collectively outside ourselves.
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Drawing on both evolutionary and ontogenetic perspectives, the basic biological-genetic and social-cultural architecture of human development is outlined. Three principles are involved. First, evolutionary selection pressure predicts a negative age correlation, and, therefore, genome-based plasticity and biological potential decrease with age. Second, for growth aspects of human development to extend further into the life span, culture-based resources are required at ever-increasing levels. Third, because of age-related losses in biological plasticity, the efficiency of culture is reduced as life span development unfolds. Joint application of these principles suggests that the life span architecture becomes more and more incomplete with age. Degree of completeness can be defined as the ratio between gains and losses in functioning. Two examples illustrate the implications of the life span architecture proposed. The first is a general theory of development involving the orchestration of 3 component processes: selection, optimization, and compensation. The second considers the task of completing the life course in the sense of achieving a positive balance between gains and losses for all age levels. This goal is increasingly more difficult to attain as human development is extended into advanced old age.
Article
A meta-analysis of prospective memory (PM) studies revealed that in laboratory settings younger participants outperform older participants on tests of both time- and event-based PM (rs=-.39 and -.34, respectively). Event-based PM tasks that impose higher levels of controlled strategic demand are associated with significantly larger age effects than event-based PM tasks that are supported by relatively more automatic processes (rs=-.40 vs. -.14, respectively). However, contrary to the prevailing view in the literature, retrospective memory as measured by free recall is associated with significantly greater age-related decline (r=-.52) than PM, and older participants perform substantially better than their younger counterparts in naturalistic PM studies (rs=.35 and.52 for event- and time-based PM, respectively).
Article
To examine the relation of social resources and cognitive decline in older adults. Data are from the Chicago Health and Aging Project, an epidemiologic study of risk factors for Alzheimer disease (AD) and other common conditions in a geographically defined population of older persons. The sample consisted of 6,102 non-Hispanic African Americans (61.2%) and whites, aged > or = 65, who underwent up to three interviews during an average of 5.3 years of follow-up. Each interview included administration of four cognitive function tests from which a composite measure of cognition was formed. Social networks were based on the number of children, relatives, and friends seen at least once a month. Social engagement was measured with four items related to social and productive activity. Higher number of social networks and level of social engagement were positively correlated with initial level of cognitive function (networks estimate = 0.003, engagement estimate = 0.060, both p < 0.001). Both resources were also associated with a reduced rate of cognitive decline. A high (90th percentile) number of networks reduced the rate of decline by 39% compared to a low level (10th percentile), and high social engagement reduced decline by 91%. These relations remained after controlling for socioeconomic status, cognitive activity, physical activity, depressive symptoms, and chronic medical conditions. Greater social resources, as defined by social networks and social engagement, are associated with reduced cognitive decline in old age.
Article
Research suggests a positivity effect in older adults' memory for emotional material, but the evidence from the attentional domain is mixed. The present study combined 2 methodologies for studying preferences in visual attention, eye tracking, and dot-probe, as younger and older adults viewed synthetic emotional faces. Eye tracking most consistently revealed a positivity effect in older adults' attention, so that older adults showed preferential looking toward happy faces and away from sad faces. Dot-probe results were less robust, but in the same direction. Methodological and theoretical implications for the study of socioemotional aging are discussed.
The daily inventory of stressful events: An interview-based approach for measuring daily stressors
  • Almeida
Meet your iBrain: How the technologies that have become part of our daily lives are changing we way we think
  • Small
Age-related changes in memory: Experimental approaches
  • Old