The goal of the Georgia Tech research training program is to produce researchers in basic and applied aspects of cognitive aging who can contribute to expanding knowledge about the effects of aging and age- correlated variables on cognition. A full understanding of the functional capabilities of older adults in the next decades is critical for managing a population that is increasingly older, and whose functional abilities may differ from older adults who have gone before. It requires scientific theory and method that can analyze structural changes in cognition as a function of aging, while at the same time understanding how individuals create their own functional context by use of knowledge, expertise, and adaptation to the constraints that aging places on cognitive structures and mechanisms. The training program at Georgia Tech emphasizes a concurrent understanding of the different biological, psychological, and social influences on older adults'functional cognitive capacity. The faculty provides expertise in a diverse set of domains of cognition, including memory, language, attention, social cognition, and problem solving, as well as advanced methods for characterizing experimental and correlational designs and data relevant to understanding adult cognitive development. A special strength of the program is a focus on applied cognitive aging, including systematic examination of how older adults view and interact with technology, instructions, and assistive devices. Trainees are exposed to core courses in cognitive and developmental psychology, extensive coursework on methods and statistics, specialty courses in cognitive aging, weekly research seminars, and colloquia by visiting scientists. They are also directly involved in the research programs of some of the leading scientists in this field. Eight core faculty members comprise the preceptors of the training grant who have primary responsibility for training and advising predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees. The program at Georgia Tech has added new strength in cognitive neuroscience, with new facilities and new faculty recruitment planned for the immediate future. Support for 6 predoctoral trainees and 3 postdoctoral trainees is requested.
As older adults become an increasing proportion of the population, society needs to (a) draw on older adults'knowledge, wisdom, and experience, and (b) contain health care costs by maximizing adults'functional autonomy and competence. Training scientists how to do research on cognitive aging can increase rates of successful aging and prolong effective functioning in older adults.
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