Chapter 21

When Brains Change, You Change.
Older should be wiser, better, and more balanced, but alas

  1. The weaknesses described in this chapter have been referenced earlier, esp. in the notes for Chapters 8 & 12.
  2. Older individuals confabulate more than do younger ones, in part because they want the story to come out in the over-practiced (expected) way; see, for example, Atalli E, Dalla Barba G (2012) Confabulation in healthy aging is related to poor encoding and retrieval of over-learned information. Neuropsychol Dev Cogn B Aging Neuropsychol Cogn (epub ahead of print). Several recent studies have shown that you remember that others have told you a story much better than you remember that you have told THEM a particular story. See Gopie N, Macleod CM (2009) Destination memory: stop me if I’ve told you this before. Psychol Sci 20:1492.
  3. I should probably have provided you with an example of one of the most powerful of distorting influences for older individuals: money. I actually DID write about an extraordinarily wealth individual who I know who is a miser in his older age. When it comes to accumulative reward-based distortion, few forces are as powerful as is that filthy lucre.
  4. Posit Science’s marketing research has repeatedly shown that the older we are, the greater the mis-match between how we’re doing as measured objectively, and how well we would described how we’re doing! Self-monitoring just isn’t as strong or as reliable when we begin to struggle in life. Perhaps this is a natural, protective adjustment! Still, without more accurate self-assessment, why/how could any positive change be expected?