The Fordham Memory and Aging Lab examines different aspects of cognition and health across the adult lifespan. Our research focuses on age-related differences in memory and cognition, individual differences in autobiographical memory, as well as differences in normal and pathological aging. Our research also focuses on the role of subjective well-being across adulthood in order to develop a more comprehensive understanding of cognition and health during the adult lifespan.
December 2021- Congratulations to Annalee Mueller for the publication of her Honors thesis in the International Journal of Aging and Human Development!
March 2021- Congratulations to Dr. Jillian Minahan Zucchetto for successfully defending her dissertation entitled "Social Isolation and Loneliness Among Adults Aged 50 Years and Older in the United States: An Analysis of the Cognitive Discrepancy Theory"!!
November 2020 - Lab members presented a 5-part symposium, entitled, "Findings From the Virginia Cognitive Aging Project: Individual Differences, Well-Being, and Cognition" at the 2020 Gerontological Society of America Annual Meeting.
August 2020- Congratulations to Jillian Minahan Zucchetto for being named a GSAS Higher Education Leadership Fellow!
April 2020 - Congratulations to Dr. Amanda Leeder for successfully defending her dissertation examining an intervention for conversation management skills in young adults with autism spectrum disorder!
January 2020 - Congratulations to Emily McFadden and Cassandra Cooney for getting their Honors theses published in peer-reviewed journals!
June 2019 - Congratulations to Dr. Francesca Falzarano who successfully defended her dissertation and started a T32 post-doctoral fellowship in the department of Geriatrics and Palliative Care at Weill Cornell Medicine!
The positivity effect refers to the finding that older adults remember or attend to more positive (as compared to negative information) as compared to younger adults. Research has consistently demonstrated a positivity effect in laboratory setting using words or pictures. Research in our lab has failed to find evidence of the positivity effect across age with the selection of autobiographical memories (Siedlecki, Hicks, & Kornhauser, 2015). We have recently completed data collection on a project examining the influence of different types of autobiographical memories, as well as measures of cognitive control, on the positivity effect in samples of younger and older adults. Our peliminary results again suggest there is no evidence of the positivity effect across age in autobiographical memories, after accounting for levels of depressive symptoms.
We have several on-going studies examining autobiographical memories. Language and visual perspective project: There is evidence that consistency in self-concept between current self and self in a memory may affect whether a first-person or third-person visual perspective is taken in an autobiographical memory. Self-concept has also been shown to be influenced by language in bilingual or multilingual individuals. The purpose of this project is examine whether language concordance between encoding and retrieval will have an effect on the visual perspective taken in autobiographical memories. False memory and visual perspective project: Previous research has demonstrated that memories viewed from a third-person visual perspective (in which one can see themselves in a memory) are similar to false memories in terms of ratings on phenomenological characteristics. The purpose of the current project was to examine whether the tendency to view memories in the third-person perspective is associated with making memory distortions. Our results indicate that taking a third person visual perspective was not significantly related to making memory errors. Autobiographical memory recall as an intervention to increase feelings of well-being project: Autobiographical memories are hypothesized to have three main functions: identity (self), social, and directive. The directive function of AM has been demonstrated in an array of studies. For example, Biondolillo and Pillemer (2015) asked participants in an experimental condition to retrieve an autobiographical memory in which they had a positive or negative experience related to exercising. Eight days later participants completed a self-assessment of exercise during the prior week. Participants who retrieved a positive memory associated with exercise at Time 1 reported higher levels of exercise during the prior week at Time 2 compared to participants in the control condition who were not asked to retrieve a memory associated with exercise. This effect was evident even after controlling for baseline levels of exercise, motivation, and attitudes. The purpose of the proposed study is to extend previous work and examine whether a brief autobiographical memory intervention in college students can enhance feelings of well-being during the subsequent week.
Cognition and Subjective Well-Being
Subjective well-being (SWB) is a three-dimensional construct thought to comprise a cognitive-judgmental component (often assessed with the Satisfaction with Life Scale; SWLS; Diener, Emmons, Larsen, & Griffin, 1985), and affective components corresponding to positive and negative mood. High subjective well-being (SWB) has been considered a hallmark of successful aging (e.g., Rowe & Khan, 1997; 1998), and cognitive functioning has been linked to higher life satisfaction and positive affect. The current project is examining the cross-sectional and cross-lagged relationship among cognition and SWB using data from the Virginia Cognitive Aging Project (VCAP; Salthouse, 2014).
Gerontological Society of America (GSA) 2019 – Austin, TX
Examining the Relationship Between Cognitive Functioning and Subjective Well-Being Across Age
Francesca Falzarano, Jillian Minahan, Neshat Yazdani, Timothy A. Salthouse, & Karen L. Siedlecki
Investigating the Relationship Between Social Support and Cognition as Mediated by Health and Positive Affect
Francesca Falzarano, Karen L. Siedlecki & Timothy A. Salthouse
The Society of Research on Memory and Cognition (SARMAC) 2019 – Cape Cod, MA
Differences in Voluntary and Involuntary Memories across Age
Jillian Minahan, Neshat Yazdani, Eunice Jung, Devin D’Agnostino, Travis Aprile, Alisia Ortiz, and Karen L. Siedlecki
The goals of the current study were to examine 1) differences in ratings of phenomenological memory characteristics between voluntary and involuntary memories using the shortened Memory Experiences Questionnaire (sMEQ), and 2) whether age influences ratings of voluntary and involuntary memory characteristics. The sample comprised younger (n=48) and older (n=23) adults who retrieved voluntary memories in a laboratory setting and recorded involuntary memories for seven days. Consistent with previous research, differences in phenomenological ratings between voluntary and involuntary memories were identified. Furthermore, differences in memory characteristics between younger and older adults for both memory types were also identified.
Relationships Among Autobiographical Memory Qualities and Non-Clinical Mood Characteristics
Emily McFadden and Karen L. Siedlecki
Much of the literature surrounding mood and memory compares depressed individuals with a healthy control group and suggests that those with a clinical level of depressive symptoms lack a bias for positive memories (Young, Erickson, & Drevets 2012; Begovic et al.,2017). This study examines whether the findings can be replicated in non-clinical samples. It was hypothesized that decreased depressive symptomology, more positive mood/affect, and greater satisfaction with life would predict more positive memories. Participants (N =144) with an average age of 27.74 (SD=4.63) completed a survey assessing these variables and retrieved six autobiographical memories. All correlations are in the directions hypothesized, with some significance. The established relationships between mood and memory are supported by these findings. However, it does not appear that these relationships exist to the same degree in non-clinical samples.
The International Neuropsychological Society (INS) 2019 – New York, NY
Examining Processing Speed as a Predictor of Subjective Well-Being Across age and Time in the German Aging Survey
Karen L. Siedlecki, Neshat Yazdani, Jillian Minahan, & Francesca Falzarano
Subjective well-being is a construct that comprises life satisfaction, positive affect, and negative affect. Research has shown that these components are differentially related to age. Cognition has been shown to be related to subjective well-being. The purpose of the current study was to both the cross-sectional and the longitudinal relationships between processing speed and subjective well-being. In cross-sectional samples, results showed that processing speed was a weak, but consistent predictor of positive affect, while age was associated with decreases in negative affect. Conversely, cross-lagged analyses showed that the temporal relationship between processing speed and positive affect was close to zero, and non-significant. The results of this study shed additional light on the relationship between subjective well-being and cognition.
Examining Sex Differences in Neurocognitive Functioning Across Adulthood
Karen L. Siedlecki, Francesca Falzarano, & Timothy A. Salthouse
Recent debate surrounding the lack of proportionate representation of women in science-related fields has included the examination of neurocognitive differences between the sexes (Berenbaum & Resnick, 2007). Data from the Virginia Cognitive Aging Project (VCAP), a prospective study of neurocognitive functioning in community dwelling adults between the ages of 18-99 years, were used (N=5,125) were to address the following goals 1) examine gender differences in neurocognitive functioning across adulthood, and 2) examine whether age moderates the gender effect on neurocognitive functioning. Participants completed 16 tests within five domains of cognition: episodic memory, processing speed, reasoning, spatial ability, and vocabulary. Latent variable analyses revealed that men and women had similar structural relations, with evidence of configural and metric invariance for a five-factor model of neurocognitive functioning. Next, a model with gender as a predictor of the five latent neurocognitive constructs (and age, education, and self-rated health as covariates) fit well. In this model, women performed better on memory (β= .18*), and speed (β= .11*), and worse on spatial ability (β= -.17*). Gender was not significantly related to vocabulary or reasoning. There was no evidence of age moderation except for vocabulary; gender was a significant predictor (β= .14*) of vocabulary in the younger group, but not in the other two age groups.
How Much Variance in Neurocognitive Functioning in Older Adults can be Explained by Neuroimaging Markers of Brain Volume and Small Vessel Cerebrovascular Disease?
Francesca Falzarano, Karen L. Siedlecki, Batool Rizvi, Mariana Budge, Juliet Colon, Kay Igwe, Nicole Schupf, Jennifer J. Manly, Richard Mayeux, and Adam M. Brickman
The variance shared among cognitive constructs can be referred to as the g factor. Several neuroimaging variables have been proposed to account for the variance in neurocognitive functioning (g). Although the predictive validity of these factors is often examined in isolation, many of these variables are related to one another. As such, it is useful to examine the influence of multiple neuroimaging measures simultaneously in order to identify unique influences on g. Thus, the goal of the current study was to examine the age-related neuroimaging correlates of g in older adults. Participants (N= 524) were between the ages of 62- 96 years who are part of Wave III of the Washington Heights-Inwood Columbia Aging project, a prospective longitudinal study of cognition in a community-based sample. The sample comprised 31.1% non-Hispanic White, 36.3% African American, and 30.0% Hispanic participants. Participants completed a battery of neuropsychological tests that were administered in their preferred language (English or Spanish) to assess memory, language, visual-spatial ability, and reasoning. A multiple indicators multiple causes (MIMIC) structural model was used to evaluate how much variance in g can be accounted for by six neuroimaging variables including relative total brain volume (TBV), cortical thickness, total white matter hyperintensities volume, presence of infarct, total microbleeds, and total fractional anisotropy. Within the non-Hispanic White and African American subsamples, the neuroimaging variables accounted for 23.9% and 19.2% of the variance in g, with TBV and cortical thickness having the largest relationships with g. The neuroimaging variables accounted for substantially less variance in g (6.3%) in the Hispanic subsample.
Socialization and Memory Performance across Age
Francesca Falzarano & Karen L. Siedlecki
New England Psychological Association (NEPA) 2018 – Worcester, MA
Menstrual Cycle Phase Differences in Cognition and Autobiographical Memory Phenomenological Characteristics
Erin Hunt, Jillian Minahan, Neshat Yazdani, & Karen Siedlecki
The menstrual cycle can be divided into two phases which are accompanied by differing levels of female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone. This study examined the effect of menstrual cycle phase on cognition and autobiographical memory. Analyses revealed no significant difference between menstrual cycle phases on tests of cognition or autobiographical memory characteristics, suggesting that autobiographical memory recall and cognitive abilities remain consistent throughout the menstrual cycle in healthy college-aged females.
Exploring the Relationship Between Menstrual Distress Symptomology and Autobiographical Memory Phenomenological Characteristics
Erin Hunt, Jillian Minahan, Neshat Yazdani, & Karen Siedlecki
This study examined whether experience of menstrual distress symptomology during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle is associated with autobiographical memory characteristics. Results suggest that heightened experience of menstrual cycle symptoms is associated with greater vividness and emotional intensity, greater clarity in time perspective, and more positively valenced autobiographical memories recalled. We conclude that experience of menstrual cycle symptoms is related to the phenomenological characteristics of autobiographical memories that participants chose to recall across testing sessions.
PARTICIPATE IN OUR RESEARCH
THE COVID-19 COGNITION PROJECT
We are currently collecting data for a research study examining cognitive functioning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Participants will also be asked to complete several on-line tasks assessing different aspects of cognition, including measures of reaction time, working memory, processing speed, short-term memory, and executive functioning. Participants will also be asked to complete an on-line questionnaire with questions pertaining to COVID-19 screening, physical and mental health, sleep, stress, mental fatigue, and sociodemographic questions.
It is expected that the cognitive tasks and the survey will take a total of about 35-45 mins to complete.
To participate, you must be at least 18 years of age, fluent in English, and currently reside in the United States. After completion of the study, participants will have the opportunity to enter a raffle for one of three $100 Amazon gift cards.
If interested in participating, click here.
Contact us below (or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like additional information.
441 East Fordham Road
Dealy Hall 226
Bronx, NY 10458