Bornstein’s research, funded by the National Institute on Aging, will inform research into early detection and treatment of a wide range of diseases of aging, and help researchers understand how training could improve decision-making abilities. UCI

Cognitive impairments due to normal aging may leave some older adults vulnerable to exploitation when making complex decisions with long-term impacts – like those pertaining to medical care and finances. Understanding what these impairments are and how they may be mitigated is the focus of a new UCI study led by Aaron Bornstein, cognitive sciences assistant professor, with a $423,313 grant from the National Institute on Aging.

“Multi-step planning decisions, in addition to being relatively under-studied in older adults, are also distinct in that they depend on long-term, episodic memory,” said Bornstein. “Episodic memory is known to decline in age.”

His study will work to determine how decision errors might be explained by what is already known about memory decline due to the natural aging process. Bornstein added that a connection between memory and decisions could also explain why decision-making ability seems to decline in individuals with age-related diseases including Alzheimer’s and Mild Cognitive Impairment.

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