Ageing is characterized by decreased brain volume, changes in general neuronal efficacy and connectivity and by a number of medical conditions, any or all of which contribute to widely reported age-related declines in cognition and memory. However, a number of findings in the recent literature suggest that the age-related declines do not characterize all of cognition, and that there may even be domains in which older adults outperform younger adults. We offer an overview of this evidence along with a review of ways in which standard laboratory procedures may be biased against older adults, leading to an underestimation of their true abilities, as well as to an overestimation of the magnitude of age differences. These two sections raise questions regarding how brain functions compensate in the face of widely reported neurobiological differences with age, and suggest that the full abilities of older adults have yet to be recognized.
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