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Category: Health Magazine, Winter 2024

Title:Healthy Aging Symposium focuses on cognitive function

Many people are familiar with the downsides of cognition with aging, including greater problems with forgetfulness, word-finding, and multitasking. However, not all aspects of cognition decline. For example, Georgetown Professor of Neuroscience, Neurology, and Psychology Michael Ullman and his colleagues found that orienting (shifting attention to a given spatial location) and inhibition (detecting and inhibiting conflicting information) actually seem to improve with age.

According to Ullman, these improvements are likely attributable to experience. “We’re constantly inhibiting distracting information, which can lead to improvements in this ability over time,” he said at the second annual Healthy Aging Symposium.

Cognitive decline is also moderated by social activity, explains Maxine Weinstein, distinguished professor in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and director of the Georgetown Center for Population and Health. “We found that greater social activity predicted better cognition,” she said. “Being socially engaged helps preserve cognitive function, at least as far as we can tell.”

The symposium was sponsored in part by the Center for Healthy Aging, which launched about two years ago with a goal of bringing educators, scholars, and researchers together around the topic of aging, from bench to bedside to the community.

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