This chapter highlights selected domains of cognition that can be studied across mammalian species and that have known age-related neurobiological underpinnings. Research aimed at understanding the aging process, including the change of learning and memory processes with respect to age, provides the basis for the development of better preventative strategies and treatment strategies for successful ageing (particularly older population). In the general field of aging research, the focus has been on the pathological aging that may be associated with diseases such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). Many people do not develop dementing conditions such as AD with age; instead, most people develop mild memory deficits known as age-associated memory impairment (AAMI).There is a large literature that has examined the impact of aging process on learning and memory function. Tasks in which age-related impairments have been found include classical conditioning, such as eyeblink and heart rate conditioning, conditioned taste aversion, fear conditioning, operant tasks such delayed matching-to-sample and delayed nonmatching-to-sample tasks, and instrumental tasks such as active avoidance, passive avoidance, and maze learning tasks. The studies discussed in the chapter focus on the form of learning and memory that involves the ability of an organism to acquire and retain information that is critical for successful navigation through space. The discussion includes the process of learning and memory with respect to both humans and rodents, the involvement of the hippocampus in spatial learning and memory, and normal brain aging outside the hippocampus.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Behavioral Neuroscience