Lifespan Cognitive Development: The Roles of Representation and Control: Fergus I. M. Craik and Ellen Bialystok
It is a curious fact that studies of cognitive aging and studies of cognitive development make little contact with each other. The findings, methods, and concepts from each area have typically emerged and existed in isolation, despite the obvious point that children develop into young adults and finally into older adults. Given this continuity, it seems necessary to assume some corresponding continuities in the mechanisms and processes that underlie cognitive performance, yet the great majority of investigations have either stopped at adolescence (in the case of cognitive development) or started at young adulthood (in the case of cognitive aging). The cultural isolation between the two subareas of lifespan cognitive development is even more difficult to understand when the few studies that do cover all ages report substantial similarities between the cognitive mechanisms in children and adults. As one recent example, Salthouse and Davis (2006) analyzed the structural organization of cognition in 3400 individuals ranging in age from 5 to 93 years and reported a qualitatively similar organizational structure of cognitive variables between children (5-17 years), students (18-22 years), and adults (23-93 years). The investigators concluded that “at least with respect to these aspects of cognition, age differences across the lifespan appear to be more quantitative than qualitative” (p. 52).