Narrator: This is Science Today. In the words of an old song, ‘you've got to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative'. According to new memory research, it seems that's just what older adults do when making and remembering their choices in life. Clinical psychologist Mara Mather of the University of California, Santa Cruz, says as people age, they rely more on a strategic thought process that favors positive emotional outcomes.
Mather: We can take a group of older and younger adults who are equally accurate in memory, but the older adults will remember things in a way that will enhance their current emotions more, so they'll remember more of the positive than the negatives. It doesn't really look like it's just because older adults are forgetting things – it looks like it's really a strategic type of thing.
Narrator: Mather says their findings differ from most types of studies looking at age differences.
Mather: In most types of research on aging, if you're showing decline physically, you're often showing decline cognitively. Whereas this is something where it's the group of older adults who are doing best in terms of their cognitive aging.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.