Activities and Seminars

Michael Ramscar. Nonlinear dynamics of lifelong learning: the myth of cognitive decline.
Date: Jan 23, 2014

What: Nonlinear dynamics of lifelong learning: the myth of cognitive decline

Where: BCBL auditorium

Who: Michael Ramscar, Tübingen University, Germany.

When: 12 noon

As adults age, their performance on a range of psychometric tests declines. This has been taken to show that cognitive information-processing capacities also decline with age. I will present a series of simulations based on very large data samples that show how the observed patterns of test performance emerge in learning models as the range of knowledge that they acquire increases. The simulations correctly identify greater variation in the cognitive performance of older adults, and successfully predict that older adults exhibit much greater sensitivity to fine-grained differences in the properties of test items than younger adults. These findings indicate that the patterns of slowing / “forgetting” – and non-slowing / “non-forgetting” – seen in cognitive tests simply reflect the consequences of learning from the statistical distributions that typify much of human experience.