As the number of older adults increases, it is imperative that research be undertaken that will enhance our understanding of normative age-related variations in cognitive skills that underlie one's ability to function independently in everyday life. One of the most important skills in this area, and perhaps the one most often associated with aging-related decline, is memory. Memory skills do appear to suffer in later life, with this decrement typically attributed to neuronal loss in associated cortical structures. There is also evidence, however, that factors unrelated to cognitive ability or neuronal loss may influence memory and account for age-related variation in performance. For example, research has shown that negative stereotypes of aging may undermine older adults' memory performance in some test situations. There is also evidence of adaptive functioning in later life as older adults become more selective in how they use their memory in an attempt to conserve limited cognitive resources. The proposed research will explore these adaptive aspects of memory functioning in old age, with a particular focus on the role of mood on memory functioning. Being in a positive or negative mood has been shown to affect the cognitive operations used in a given situation. There is also evidence that different moods will have different levels of functionality across situations. Thus, one's ability to understand the impact of mood on functioning and to regulate mood in a manner consistent with situational demands may be an important predictor of adaptive functioning. There is some evidence that dominant mood states change with age, and that the ability to regulate moods also improves in later life. There is also evidence, however, that the ability to regulate mood may be determined in part by executive cognitive functions which decline with age. The goal of the proposed research is to examine the role of mood in determining age differences in memory performance, and the extent to which normative age-related variation in mood, the ability to regulate mood, and executive functions affects one's ability to use memory. Memory is an important aspect of psychological functioning in later life, with one's general ability as well as beliefs and perceptions about ability being associated with well-being and other aspects of mental health. An understanding of the affective factors influencing memory is necessary for gaining a more complete understanding of the nature of aging-related change in this important everyday skill. In addition, the examination of a particular aspect of functioning (i.e., mood regulation) that is maintained with age and that is associated with memory may give insight to factors associated with independent functioning in later life. ? ? ?

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Social Psychology, Personality and Interpersonal Processes Study Section (SPIP)
Program Officer
King, Jonathan W
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
North Carolina State University Raleigh
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
Hess, Thomas M; Popham, Lauren E; Growney, Claire M (2017) Age-Related Effects on Memory for Social Stimuli: The Role of Valence, Arousal, and Emotional Responses. Exp Aging Res 43:105-123
Popham, Lauren E; Hess, Thomas M (2015) Age differences in the underlying mechanisms of stereotype threat effects. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 70:225-34
Hess, Thomas M (2014) Selective Engagement of Cognitive Resources: Motivational Influences on Older Adults' Cognitive Functioning. Perspect Psychol Sci 9:388-407
Hess, Thomas M; Ennis, Gilda E (2014) Assessment of Adult Age differences in Task Engagement: The Utility of Systolic Blood Pressure. Motiv Emot 38:844-854
Hess, Thomas M; Popham, Lauren E; Dennis, Paul A et al. (2013) Information content moderates positivity and negativity biases in memory. Psychol Aging 28:853-63
Emery, Lisa; Hess, Thomas M; Elliot, Tonya (2012) The illusion of the positive: the impact of natural and induced mood on older adults' false recall. Neuropsychol Dev Cogn B Aging Neuropsychol Cogn 19:677-98
Hess, Thomas M; Emery, Lisa; Neupert, Shevaun D (2012) Longitudinal relationships between resources, motivation, and functioning. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 67:299-308
Hess, Thomas M; Popham, Lauren E; Emery, Lisa et al. (2012) Mood, motivation, and misinformation: aging and affective state influences on memory. Neuropsychol Dev Cogn B Aging Neuropsychol Cogn 19:13-34
Emery, Lisa; Hess, Thomas M (2011) Cognitive consequences of expressive regulation in older adults. Psychol Aging 26:388-96
Hess, Thomas M; Hinson, Joey T; Hodges, Elizabeth A (2009) Moderators of and mechanisms underlying stereotype threat effects on older adults' memory performance. Exp Aging Res 35:153-77

Showing the most recent 10 out of 14 publications