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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Psychology

Undergraduate Course: Memory, Ageing and the Brain (PSYL10095)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryIt is well known that as we get older our memory for events declines and there is an increase in false memory. The advent of brain imaging has given us new tools to understand episodic memory decline as well as generating new questions. This course explores how different theories of brain ageing can explain episodic memory decline. There will be a special emphasis on cognitive neuroimaging approaches, particularly functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI/MRI), but no prior specialist knowledge is assumed.
Course description Our starting point will be three theories of neurocognitive ageing: the frontal lobe hypothesis, the hippocampal ageing hypothesis, and generalised brain ageing hypotheses. We will consider the main ways in which these theories can be put to test using brain imaging and cognitive theory. Week 1¿s class will introduce the theories and approaches. The next three weeks¿ classes will consider the first three theories in detail. Each week there will be a lecture as well as student-led group discussions of some core studies which address that theory. In the last week, we will also consider whether functional imaging data provide any basis for optimism about older brains¿ ability to compensate for cognitive decline.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Learning and Memory (PSYL10108)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesDegree major in Psychology and passes in Psychology courses at least to the equivalent of Junior Honours level in Edinburgh. Prior agreement with the 4th Year Honours Course Organiser.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
By the end of the course students should be able: To understand the principal brain changes that occur in ageing To discuss how these may give rise to episodic memory decline via changes at encoding and retrieval To critically evaluate the three main theories discussed on the course in the light of the evidence
Reading List
Background reading:
Luo L., Craik F.I. (2008). Aging and memory: a cognitive approach. Can J Psychiatry. 53(6):346-53.
Purves, D., Cabeza, R., Huettel, S.A., LaBar, K.,S., Platt, M.L., & Woldorff, M.G. (2013). Principles of Cognitive Neuroscience. Chapter 9: Declarative Memory (pp. 279-318). Sinauer, Sunderland, MA. Content covering cognitive neuroimaging of episodic memory.

Selected papers to be discussed during the course:
Dennis, N. A., Bowman, C. R., & Peterson, K. M. (2014). Age-related differences in the neural correlates mediating false recollection. Neurobiol Aging, 35(2), 395-407
Maillet, D., & Rajah, M.N. (2014). Age-related differences in brain activity in the subsequent memory paradigm: A meta-analysis. Neurosci Biobehav Rev, 45: 246-257.
Morcom A.M.; Johnson, W. (2015) Neural reorganization and compensation in aging. J Cogn Neurosci. 27(7):1275-1285.
Nyberg, L., Lövden, M., Riklund, K., Lindenberger, U., & Bäckman, L. (2012). Memory aging and brain maintenance. Trends Cognit Sci 16, 292-305.
Park, D.C., Gutchess, A.H. (2005). Long-term memory and aging. In Cabeza R., Nyberg, L., Park, D. C. (Eds.) The Cognitive Neuroscience of Aging (pp.218-245). New York: Oxford University Press.
Park J., Carp J., Hebrank A., Park D.,C., & Polk T.,A. (2010). Neural specificity predicts fluid processing ability in older adults. J Neurosci. 30(27):9253-9.
Reuter-Lorenz, P. A. & Lustig, C. (2005). Brain aging: reorganizing discoveries about the aging mind. Current Opinion Neurobiol 15(2): 245-251.
Shing YL, Werkle-Bergner M, Brehmer Y, Muller V, Li SC, Lindenberger U (2009). Episodic memory across the lifespan: The contributions of associative and strategic components. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 34: 1080-1091.
West, R. L. (1996). An application of prefrontal cortex function theory to cognitive aging. Psychol Bull, 120, 272-292.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Alexandra Morcom
Tel: (0131 6)51 1907
Course secretaryMs Stephanie Fong
Tel: (0131 6)51 3733
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