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Social NeuroscienceToward Understanding the Underpinnings of the Social Mind$
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Alexander Todorov, Susan Fiske, and Deborah Prentice

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195316872

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195316872.001.0001

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Could an Aging Brain Contribute to Subjective Well-Being?

Could an Aging Brain Contribute to Subjective Well-Being?

The Value Added by a Social Neuroscience Perspective

Chapter:
(p.249) Chapter 17 Could an Aging Brain Contribute to Subjective Well-Being?
Source:
Social Neuroscience
Author(s):

John T. Cacioppo

Gary G. Berntson

Antoine Bechara

Daniel Tranel

Louise C. Hawkley

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195316872.003.0017

Carstensen and colleagues reported that at least until very late in life, healthy older adults reported lower levels of depressive symptomatology and higher levels of subjective well-being. These findings were surprising not only because they went against social stereotypes of the misery of old age, but because cognitive declines were also evident in older adults. Carstensen et al.'s important work has led to efforts to determine the underlying cause of the age-related decline in depressive feelings in the hopes of improving treatments for depressive symptomatology across the age range. Early work focused on the temporal perspective and self-regulatory strategies that characterize healthy older adults, but attention to age-related changes in brain function provide an alternative explanation for these findings. This chapter contrasts these two perspectives to examine how a neuroscientific approach to a social problem can produce insights that would not be discernible from a social or behavioral perspective alone. It also illustrates the complementary nature of research using fMRI and lesion patients.

Keywords:   aging, social stereotypes, well-being, depression, old age, age-related decline

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