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Physical & Cognitive in Middle Adulthood

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Tiara Johnson

on 26 November 2013

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Transcript of Physical & Cognitive in Middle Adulthood

Developmental Psychology
Physical & Cognitive in Middle Adulthood
Vanessa Winslow
Moriah Monroe
Tiara Johnson
Cognitive Development
Health and Disease
Many live through middle adulthood without persistent health problems
For others, persistent health problems become more common than in early life stages
Stress a factor in disease (Effects immune system and cardiovascular disease)
Chronic disease main cause of death in middle adulthood
Hormonal changes in Middle-Aged Men
Careers, Work and Leisure
Role of work is central
May be at peak of position/career
Stable Careers vs. Layoffs/unemployment
Career Challenges
Religion and Meaning in Life
Religion's role in adult development
70% middle aged adults (Spirituality major part of their life)
The role of individual differences
Effects of religion on health (positive/negative)
death and loss
Cognitive Development
Cognitive Development
Reflections of years gone by:
Middle life is a time when people start to reminisce about past events and weigh the productivity of their lives up until this point.
They now make choices and decisions different from the past.
Midlife brings with it a level of maturity that had not been accomplished prior to this stage of life.

Changes in Middle life
During middle life many changes will take place.
Changes in physical health occurs during this stage.
Genetics play a key role in the way we age.
Visible signs of aging are: the skin starts to wrinkle and sag.
Hair begins to gray.
Height and weight are affected by the aging process as well.
Males will lose height- ½ in. -3/4 inches from age 50-70.
Females will lose at least 2inches from age 50-75.
Due to bone lost of the vertebrae.
There is also a lose of muscle mass.
Some gain or lose weight.
Problems with vision and hearing may occur during this stage.
There are other physical changes that will happen some minute some life altering changes.
Sleep and cardiovascular problems may occur.
Depending on lifestyle, genetics and history one could make it through this stage.

Middle Life
What to Expect?
Physical and cognitive development

Middle life is a time of reflection.
Midlife brings with it a sense of knowing feelings of innovation and accomplishment.
Midlife starts in the 40’s and last until around age 60-65 years of age.

In cognitive development, intelligence focuses on the concepts of fluid and crystallized intelligence, The cohort effects and Seattle Longitudinal Study.

John Horn argues that some abilities begin to decline while others increase. Crystallized intelligence which is an individuals information and verbal skills, continues to increase in middle adulthood.
Fluid intelligence which is one’s ability to reason abstractly begins to decline in the middle adulthood years.

The main focus in the Seattle Longitudinal study has been on individual change and stability in intelligence.
The main mental abilities tested are verbal ability- ability to understand ideas expressed in words.
Verbal memory- ability to encode and recall meaningful language units such as a list of words.
Numeric ability- ability to perform simple mathematical computations such as addition, subtraction, and multiplication.
Spatial orientation- ability to visualize and mentally rotate stimuli in two and three-dimensional space.

The Seattle Longitudinal Study

Inductive reasoning- ability to recognize and understand patterns and relationships in a problem and use this understanding to solve other instances of the problem.
Perpetual speed- the ability to quickly and accurately make simple discriminations in visual stimuli.

The highest level of functioning for four of the six intellectual abilities occurred in the middle adult years.
For both women and men peak performance on verbal ability, verbal memory, inductive reasoning, and spatial orientation was attained in middle age.
Numeric ability and perceptual speed showed a decline in middle age.
Perceptual speed showed the earliest decline. Beginning in early adulthood.
On the graph the decline for most intellectual abilities began in the sixties.
However the decline in verbal abilities did not drop until the early seventies.
From the mid seventies to the late eighties all cognitive abilities showed a decline.


Among the information processing changes that take place in middle adulthood are those involved in speed of processing information, memory and expertise.

Information processing

A common way to assess speed of information is through a reaction-time task, in which individuals simply press a button when the light appears. Middle aged adults are slower to push the button then young adults.
However the decline was not dramatic- under 1 second in most investigations.

Speed of information processing

In the Seattle Longitudinal study, verbal memory peaked in the fifties, However in some other studies verbal memory has shown a decline. Especially when assessed in cross-sectional studies.
For example, when asked to remember lists of words, numbers, or meaningful prose, younger adults out performed middle-aged adults. Although there is some controversy about weather memory declines or not, most experts have come to the conclusion that it does decline at least in late middle age.
Aging and cognition expert Denise Park argues that starting in the late middle age, more time is needed to learn new information
The slowdown in learning new information has been linked to working memory, the mental” workbence” where individuals manipulate and assemble information when making decisions, solving problems, and comprehending written and spoken language.
In late middle age working memory capacity- the amount of information that can be immediately retrieved and used, becomes limited.
Memory decline is more likely to occur when individuals don’t use effective memory strategies such as organizing and imagery.


Because it take so long to attain, expertise often shows up more in the middle adulthood than in early years.
Expertise involves having extensive, highly organized knowledge and understanding of a particular domain.
Becoming an expert in a field is usually the result in having many years of experience of experience, learning and effort.

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