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Vol. 50, No. 1, 2004
Issue release date: January–February 2004
Gerontology 2004;50:28–34

Aging and Attenuated Processing Robustness

Evidence f rom Cognitive and Sensorimotor Functioning

Li S.-C. · Huxhold O. · Schmiedek F.
Center for Lifespan Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany

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Background: Within-person, across-time variations in processes and performance are intrinsic to all aspects of human functioning. Objective: This article starts with a brief taxonomy of intraindividual dynamics. There are adaptive as well as non-adaptive types of intraindividual variations that unfold with different degrees of reversibility on different time scales and involve either single, or systems of, functions. Methods: Empirical findings regarding aging and a specific type of intraindividual variation, namely attenuated processing robustness, are then presented with respect to cognitive and sensorimotor functioning. Results: In both domains of functioning, old adults exhibit less robust functioning with a greater amount of week-to-week, day-to-day, or trial-by-trial fluctuations in their cognitive, walking, and postural control performances. Conclusion: Currently, the causes for the attenuation of processing robustness in cognitive and sensorimotor functioning are not well understood. Neurocomputational models are useful tools for exploring the tripartite relationships between the aging of neural information-processing fidelity, and cognitive, and sensorimotor processes.

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