2012 Grants

For 2012, we awarded two $15,000 grants.

Project Title: Neural Mechanisms of Value-Directed Remembering in Younger and Older Adults
Team: Michael Cohen (PhD student in Psychology; UCLA), Alan Castel (Assistant Professor of Cognitive Psychology; UCLA), Jesse Rissman (Assistant Professor of Cognitive Psychology; UCLA), Barbara Knowlton (Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience; UCLA), Aimee Drolet (Professor of Marketing; UCLA)
Award dates: 2/1/12 – 10/1/13

Summary: The ability to use memory effectively requires one to focus on more important to-be-remembered information at the expense of less important information. Previous studies (e.g., Castel et al., 2002) have shown that, at least in certain contexts, older adults are able to successfully prioritize the encoding of valuable information. For example, when faced with the task of learning a set of words that have varied point values assigned to them, older adults, while typically recalling fewer overall words than young adults, actually tend to be closer than young adults to achieving the optimal point total given the number of items that they do recall. Such data indicate that healthy older adults are able to successfully implement the strategies necessary to direct their limited cognitive resources towards remembering those things that are most important. Still, relatively little is known about the cognitive and neural mechanisms that underlie the ways in which high-value items are processed differently from less valuable items, particularly in healthy older adults. Our proposed fMRI study seeks to adapt Castel et al.’s behavioral paradigm to characterize neural correlates of value-directed remembering in young and older adults. Finally, to provide a stronger connection between our laboratory measure of value-incentivized remembering and real-world economic outcomes, we plan to relate individual differences in selectivity on the word memory task with more traditional measures of economic decision-making.

Project Title: Financial Decision Making at Retirement
Team: Vinod Venkatraman (Assistant Professor of Marketing; Temple University), John Payne (Professor of Business, Law, and Psychology; Duke University)
Award dates: 2/1/12 – 7/31/13

Summary: This project examines complex decisions like annuities and ducumulation of retirement investments in older adults using a multi-methodological approach that involves behavioral, eye tracking, and neuroscience experiments. A major emphasis will be on the development and validation of decision-making tasks that represent the complexities of real-world decisions and yet are suitable for experimentation using all three methodologies. This research will be carried out in two phases: an exploratory phase where we will design and validate complex decision-making tasks that are suitable for laboratory evaluation using eye-tracking and fMRI and in phase 2, we will obtain pilot data about the effects of aging on decision preferences in this task.

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