Cognitive Resilience in Adulthood

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A resilience framework for understanding cognitive aging implies a search for factors that buffer against existing risk, enabling one to thrive in what might otherwise be adverse circumstances. The cascade of biological processes associated with senescence and a cultural context that does not take into account this biological imperative each
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Agency in sustaining an engaged lifestyle does not just derive from naive optimism (e.g., the "little engine that could"), but rather from a whole constellation of resources crafted over the life span that puts force behind ones sense of agency (e.g., Infurna, Gerstorf, Ram, Schupp, & Wagner, 2011).
Cognitive capacity does not come for free. By some estimates, proficiency in a substantive skill requires about 10,000 hours of deliberate practice (Ericsson, Krampe, Tesch-Römer, 1993; Gladwell, 2008). The normalization of optimal life span cognitive development, then, will ultimately derive from cultural and social institutions (e.g., health care, educational resources) that position individuals for effective engagement in experiences and activities that nurture cognition on a large scale over extended time. In the pages that follow, we consider the factors that have potential to contribute to cognitive resilience through the life span. The " 10,000-hour rule" implies that not all skills will be developed to an equal extent and that cognitive resilience must entail selectivity in what is optimized, as well as compensatory strategies for managing activities that depend on nonoptimized skills. Because plasticity decreases with age, the "10,000-hour rule" might be expected to become something like a "15,000-hour rule" for new skills developed in late life. However, the 10,000-hour rule also implies that by mid-to-later adulthood, investment in skill development of
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