- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
If Only I Could Sleep!
We can all agree that we feel our best when we get a good night's sleep. For most adults, between seven and eight hours of sleep a night is ideal.What are some of the effects of sleep deprivation? What happens to you when you are tired? What are some of the causes of sleep disturbances? What can we do to improve the quality of our sleep? Write a short paper answering these questions.
The amount of sleep a person needs depends mainly on their age and their health; adults need 7 to 9 hours, teenagers need 8.5 to 9.5 hours, and infants need 14 to 15 hours (WebMD, 2014). When a person fails to get their needed amount of sleep they can experience sleep deprivation; sleep deprivation is when a person experiences “a sufficient lack of restorative sleep over a cumulative period so as to cause physical or psychiatric symptoms and affect routine performances of tasks” (Sleep Deprivation , 2012). Sleep deprivation can be caused by sleep disturbances; for instance sleep can be interrupted by physical disturbances like pain, medical issues like asthma, psychiatric disorders like anxiety disorders, and environmental issues like drugs or alcohol (WebMD, 2014). Sleep deprivation can have many effects on physical and mental health over time.
Sleep deprivation can cause memory problems, depression, a weakening of the immune system, an increase in the likelihood of sickness, and an increase in pain perception (WebMD, 2014). Sleep deprivation can present a danger to sleep deprived people and those around them as a sleep deprived person’s hand-eye coordination task performance is as impaired as a person who is intoxicated (WebMD, 2014). This lack of hand-eye coordination has been the cause of approximately 100,000 motor vehicle accidents each year with about 1,550 of them resulting in deaths (WebMD, 2014). Sleep deprived people often take stimulants or caffeine to counteract the effects of sleep deprivation, however, stimulants and caffeine cannot overcome the effects of sleep deprivation (WebMD, 2014). The longer the period of sleep deprivation lasts the increasingly tired the person experiencing it will become.
When a person is not getting enough sleep, they are not has healthy as they could be and their physical and mental health begins to suffer. When a person is tired, they will begin to experience irritability, moodiness, and disinhibition; if the person continues to be tired, they will likely experience apathy, slowed speech, flattened emotional responses, impaired memory, and an inability to multitask (Dinges, 1991). Physical sign of the person’s tiredness will show in the person falling into micro sleeps, nodding off while being engaged in an activity, slowed reflexes, raised blood pressure, increased risk of sickness, and weight gain (Pietrangelo, 2014).
Sleep deprivation can cause many negative psychological and physical symptoms to manifest over time. To avoid experiencing sleep deprivation people can work to improve the quality of their sleep. To have a better quality of sleep, a person should stick to a consistent sleep schedule, avoid caffeine, exercise regularly, avoid heavy eating and drinking before bed, take short power naps to make up for lost sleep and engage in relaxation techniques before going to sleep (Hales, 2013, p. 42).
WebMD. (2014). Causes of Sleep Problems (W. Blahd, Ed.). Retrieved September 26, 2015.
Dinges, D. (1991). Why sleep is important and what happens when you don't get enough. Retrieved September 26, 2015, from http://www.apa.org/topics/sleep/why.aspx
Hales, D. (2013). Invitation to Health: Live It Now (16th ed.). Cengage Learning.
Pietrangelo, A. (2014, August 19). Effects of Sleep Deprivation on the Body (G. Krucik, Ed.). Retrieved September 26, 2015, from http://www.healthline.com/health/sleep-deprivation/effects-on-body
Sleep Deprivation. (2012). Retrieved September 26, 2015, from http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/sleep deprivation
WebMD. (2014). Sleep Deprivation Effects and How Much Sleep We Need: Babies, Teens, and Adults (M. Ratini, Ed.). Retrieved September 26, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/sleep-requirements
The influence of sleep on learning and memory: Jessica Payne
"1. How did you become interested in psychology?
>> That's a funny question actually, and it has two answers. One, when I went to school, my dream -- my passion was to be a marine biologist. And I failed abysmally at that. I was a very, very bad marine biologist. And it turned out that my psychology classes were my favorite classes. I found them fascinating, I was really involved, and so that's one reason I started to pursue it. But the other is that both of my parents are clinical psychologists. I don't like to admit that, but it's the truth.
2. What is your current area of research?
>> Yes, I have two. Right now I'm focusing on the influence of sleep -- the role that sleep plays on your ability to form and consolidate memories, and to remember them better over time.
3. Can you explain REM sleep and non-REM sleep?
>> Rapid eye movement sleep is traditionally what's though of dream sleep. Although really you can dream in all stages of sleep, but a lot of your most prolific dreaming with the most bizarre content happens during REM sleep. And that cluster is really toward the end of the night. Whereas the non-REM sleep that you get, particularly the slow wave -- that's the really deep slow wave sleep you get, like when somebody rings the doorbell or your alarm goes off and you wake up and you answer the telephone, and you can't really figure out what's going on, that's slow wave sleep. And that -- the bulk of that happens early on in the night. And so because it kind of [inaudible] nicely into these two different types of sleep, researchers have been asking what kinds of memories are affected by both of those two different types of sleep.
4. How does each type of sleep relate to memory and the various types of skills that memory supports?
>> Right now it looks like procedural memories. So memories for learning different skills like how to dribble a basketball really well, or how to play the piano: procedural skills that you learn, a golf swing. Those might benefit more from rapid eye movement sleep. Where what we call episodic memory, memory for past events and also potentially semantic memory, which is your knowledge of facts and use sort of your cumulative knowledge. You can think of it sort of like your lexicon or your encyclopedic knowledge of everything you know that's not really a personal event. Those two types of memories seem to be influenced more by slow way [phonetic] of sleep. But the reason I say the jury is still out on that is because it's not as if every study cleanly separates the data into those two bins. Instead there are some studies suggesting that you also need slow way of sleep for very, very low level procedural tasks, if you can even call them procedural like digital discrimination tasks. And there are also hints [phonetic] in the literature that you might need other types of non-REM sleep, like stage 2, which is sort of a lighter sleep, and even rapid eye movement sleep for some type of episodic and semantic memory consolidation. So we're still in the position right now of trying to figure that out.
5. If the brain performs difficult tasks during the day, does it need more sleep? Can the structure of sleep change, based on shifting needs?
>> My reflex is to say yes, it does because you can take college students and train them really rigorously on some type of task, like make them memorize tons and tons and tons of words that they know they're going to have to recall the next day. Or make them do procedural tasks like play that ball and cup game where you have a string attached to a ball and you try to flip the ball into the cup even doing--playing that game we all played as kids operation where you try to remove the organs without buzzing and beeping. And if you train people really intensively on any of those types of tasks, they do--the sleep architecture will change as a result of that and you'll see an increase in one signature of Stage II sleep which again is that sort of lighter form of non-REM called the sleep spindle. And it's called the sleep spindle because it really does look like this little spindle on the EEG. And there's a mounting evidence that if you rigorously train people on those tasks that you will produce more of those sleep spindles in the following night's EEG, so you can change sleep architecture. Now, that's a little bit confounded because there's another sort of angle on that research suggesting that spindling, your sleep spindles are highly correlated with your intelligence. And so, maybe it's the more highly intelligent people who learn better and so they show more increases in those sleep spindles, whereas, if you're not as intelligent, you don't learn as well and so therefore, you don't. So, keep that in mind that there is a sort of secondary variable there playing a role, but in general, I would say, yes you can.
6. Can certain sensations, such as a rose scent, enhance memory consolidation?
>> So, essentially what's happening is you see people improving as they have slow wave sleep, but what's also fascinating is that for those who had the rose scent prayed so that they could smell while they were studying and then it's also reapplied when they go to retrieve the memory while they were sleeping. It's reapplied while they're in deep slow wave sleep and these people are laying in FMRI scanner so you can image their brain function, you see this sort of intensification of hippocampal processing. And then also these people are the ones who do even better on the concentration game memory tasks. So, it's both slow wave sleep and there's a hint in there that the hippocampal processing is actually intensifying. The rose scent is sort of a memory cue. You can think of it--if you're sound asleep, you're in deep slow wave sleep, you smell something, you're not maybe conscious of it, but your brain processes this information. It's used as a memory cue and it increases hippocampal processing and therefore, you are better at the task the next day. So there is some evidence for that and that's a great article. I would highly recommend it.
>> Thank you.
7. If during sleep the brain helps to remember critical memories, does it also erase unnecessary memories?
>> Well, so we don't know the answer to that question. We don't know the answer to that question at all. In fact the -- the field of sleep and memory, it has a long history, but the empirical tradition is really relatively new. There was a lot of work that went on the 60s and 70s, and then that kind of fell off. And it's just been picking up again since the 1990s. So we really don't know. There's been a lot of speculation about that. And in fact, Crick [phonetic], one of the people who discovered the structure of DNA, wrote an article also I think published in science back in the 80s, suggesting that that -- that very role for -- for sleep, and mostly for dreaming -- that may be what dreams were doing, and maybe the reason they were so bizarre is because you're purging what's unnecessary. And so you're dreaming about it, but really it's a -- it's a sign that memories are being erased.
8. Do short naps have an impact on memory and cognitive functioning? If so, what?
>> Absolutely, no question about that. In fact, there's a glowing literature suggesting that, there's a woman named Sara Mednick who just wrote a book on the importance of mapping for cognitive function. I just did a study looking at episodic memory across in just a 90-minute map and you get a very pronounced benefit just from that brief period of sleep. There's literature suggesting you can benefit even from as little as 10 minutes. And we're not sure why especially if the napping is that brief, it may just be sort of this restorative rejuvenative thing, but also, the neurobiology, your neurobiology changes quite dramatically between sleep and wake and then also in those different stages of sleep we were talking about. And we think at least the hypothesis that there is something about that unique neurobiology of sleep that benefits memory consolidation, which is just your ability to remember things better and to hang on to them overtime. So yeah, I would advocate napping. You know, we used to think of it as something that only lazy people did and it was sort of useless and you're just wasting your time. Not true at all for cognitive function, it has enormous benefit.
9. What brain processes or neurotransmitter activities have been observed during various levels of sleep?
>> Well, anytime you're sleeping. So when you are in rapid eye movement sleep, you have sort of a super abundance of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine whereas, when you're in the other stages of sleep, you have very little of that and you have more aminergic firing going on. Amines are neurotransmitters that maybe you've heard of before. They're like serotonin and norepinephrine. A lot of people are familiar with those because they're the -- they're two of the main neurotransmitters that is targeted in depression. And so you see this sort of vacillation between aminergic and cholinergic tone, we call it, just whether you have more acetylcholine, more norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine throughout different parts of the night. And so what's interesting about it is, in REM sleep, you have very high levels of acetylcholine. Those other transmitters are very, very low. And by -- you know, on the other side of the coin, when you are looking at non-REM sleep, you have the opposite. So there's something about that very fluctuation that makes us -- and all of those neurotransmitters play different kinds of roles in the processing and consolidation of memory. We already know that from different drug studies, pharmacological studies. And so it starts to make you wonder. Huh. I wonder if the reason these things are flip-flopping in that way, at least in part, is because memories are going through different stages of processing; that at one level or another, one stage or another depend on those very neurotransmitters.
10. Can information be effectively learned within a very brief period? What does your research say, for example, about the common method of cramming for an exam during and all-nighter?
>> I use that as a strategy all through college and it was, by far, not the best strategy. It was a great strategy to get me an A on the test. I'm not going to lie to you. If you want to just keep things in short-term memory and pass the test, it's probably fine to do that. But if you really want to learn this information and remember it later, let's say if it's a class that's important to you as opposed to something that's really arcane and you just don't care about it at all, if it's something that you want to remember much later, years later, you absolutely don't want to do that. In fact, one of the hallmark findings in memory research is that you just don't want to cram, period, whether it's overnight or at any other time. You put off your studying and you cram it in, all into one or two sessions, again, you'll probably be able to remember it for the test, but you won't necessarily be able to remember it long-term. And now combining sleep with that, if you're cramming and not sleeping, then you're doing two things that are really bad for your long-term memory. So again, while you might pass that test with flying colors, the long-term fade of your memory is going to suffer a lot. So bad strategy.
11. Is there a connection between stress and memory?
>> Stress is another one of those things that's just toxic for, for memory. Stress is bad for you period, and, and I think, you know, just in the last decade or so, we've really been uncovering exactly why it influences the heart the way it does and the brain the way it does. As far as memory is concerned, when you're under really intense amounts of stress used to create stress hormones, we all have to secrete those so that we can respond appropriately to stressors. You've probably heard of the flight-or-fight response. Stress hormones, two of them, neuropinephrine, which we talked about before, and also the stress hormone cortisol are two components that allow you to respond effectively and adaptively to the presentation of a stressor. And in the short term, it's very, very functional to have high levels of, say, the stress hormone cortisol, but because of the way the, the system is built, we call the system that controls the secretion of that hormone the hypoplasia pituitary access. And what, in the, the, with the hippocampus, which we talked about before being a very important region for memory plays a big role in that system because it's sort of the, it's sort of where stress hormones really congregate, and the hippocampus is kind of what tells the hypothalamus to sort of stop secreting, stop secreting cortisol. So it's a, it's a negative feedback loop, but I guess the point is that the hippocampus, which is so important for your memory, is just loaded with these receptors for the stress hormone cortisol. It's got tons of them, and so does the frontal cortex, which is another part of your brain that's, that's really important for, for good memory function. And when you're under a lot of stress and you're secreting these hormones, they're binding the receptors in those areas, it makes sense that those areas aren't going to function as well as far as memory is concerned. And so for stress, just like for arousal and other things, you have a u-shaped function where very, very low levels of stress and very, very high levels of stress are both bad for your memory. What you want is something sort of right in between. Right. So if it's too low, maybe you're just not aroused enough to really be paying attention. You know how it is when you're not stressed at all. You don't feel very motivated. You're a little sluggish, but at the same time if you're highly stressed, it's also bad for your memory. And so you want to be somewhere right in between, and we're just now being, beginning to understand, you know, how and why it is that when those stress hormones bind these receptors in these areas that are so important for memory. You don't perform very well, and I think lots of people, especially actors and actresses. I have some friends in New York who, they talk about this experience of going up. They call it going up, and if that happens on stage, I think you're just supposed to turn to the audience and say ladies and gentlemen, I'm very sorry, but I have gone up, I have forgotten my lines, and just start from whatever point you can remember. That is probably likely due, at least in some cases, to having high levels of stress and just being very, very stressed out when you're there on stage. Also, after you've studied for a test, you know you know the material, you go into an exam feeling confident, but as soon as the test is passed out, you start to panic and all of a sudden you can't remember everything that you know you knew a few minutes before. Again, probably some of these stress hormones in this response system is behind that, too.
12. Is there a practical purpose for the stress hormones? Do short bursts of stress have different effects than perpetual levels of stress?
>> There is actually. So another name for cortisol is, it's a glucocorticoid, and it's one of a class of, I know it's a crazy name, but it's a class of molecules called the glucocorticoids, and their, their role is to mobilize glucose. To, to go and get your glucose stores and shunt it to your muscles, shunt it to your brain. So let's just say, like, a big huge grizzly bear jumps out in front of you. Well, I don't know what you're supposed to do [inaudible]. I don't know if you're supposed to not move or move when a grizzly bear jumps out in front of you, but let's just say that it's something that you want to run away from, and you need your muscles to work, you need glucose in order for your muscles to work. And so that is the purpose of, of these, of that particular stress hormone. And why the hippocampus evolved to be sort of the neg, negative feedback center, I don't know. I don't think anybody knows that, but the point of it is. And so, you know, short periods of stress no problem, but if you are perpetually under stress, and you're constantly driving that system in a way it's not really meant to be driven, evolutionarily speaking, you're going to have memory problems.
13. What has surprised you most in your research regarding memory and stress?
>> We stress subjects out by making them give a public speech. I think that's stressful for most young college students if not everybody until you get used to it, and it reliably elevates levels of, of cortisol. You can measure that just out of the saliva. And then we'll present them with materials, to be remembered materials. Often, it's a, it's a story that's presented as a slide show with corresponding narration, and it will include both emotional and neutral sort of portions of it. If you think about any emotional event, it usually has both neutral and emotional features. So if they're witnessing a car accident or some other traumatic incident. And when subjects then later come back after a delay. So just to tell you sort of the structure of the experiment. You know, they come into the lab. They're randomly assigned into either a stress or control group, and they either have to give that terrible speech or they don't, and then they observe these, these slides as the story unfolds in the slide show, and they come back either a week or two later, and a few times we've seen that they actually have good to superior memory for the emotional aspects of the stimulus. Above and beyond what the non-stress control group has. But for the neutral aspects of the slide show are for a neutral event that's matched in every way. They have terrible memory. And so I think the plot thickens a little bit, and it makes a lot of sense. Again, if that grizzly bear jumps out in front of you, you really probably do want to remember everything you can, if you survive it, about that experience so you can avoid the emotional trauma of that type of experience in the future, but it's not so important that you remember everything else that was going on at the same time. That might be neutral [inaudible].
14. What has surprised you most in your research regarding memory and sleep?
>> The most exciting -- really the most exciting and unexpected result there is that just in looking at the -- at the beneficial effect of sleep on simple word lists. Now these word lists are semantically related, so you'll take a word like sleep -- let's just say it to be clever -- and -- and you present college subjects, not with the word sleep, but with a whole bunch of words that are related to it, so bed, rest, awake, sleep, pillow, so on and so forth. And then you have them come back some -- at some point later in time. They'll offly falsely remember -- falsely recall the word sleep, because it's highly semantically related to the word list. Now we find that sleep benefits both memory for the words that really were studied, like bed, rest, and awake, and also memory for that -- that false memory in a way for the word sleep, which suggests something interesting about the way memories are processed, and maybe even the way they're stored, that you want to remember also not just the details, but also the gist of the experience. And perhaps over time, that's really all you want to remember. But the fascinating finding is that in looking at those subjects' recall sheets, you know, I've sat down in Starbucks literally with recall sheets, not knowing who was in which group, and I just started scoring 'em, circling, okay yep that's one of the words that was on the list, that's bed, yep there's sleep, that's a false memory. But -- but I started seeing -- and I have quite a bit of -- of experience with this task -- and I started seeing these for lack of a better description really bizarre novel, kind of creative, and almost beautiful intrusion errors, like -- like cloud and swirl, and these words that I've never seen before at all in my previous research what didn't -- which didn't involve sleep. So of course we started to wonder what's the role in -- of sleep in all this. And my advisor, Bob Stickle [phonetic], that Harvard is -- he's just a brilling guy, and we sort of put our heads together and thought well how are we gonna find out if these errors are more prevalent in the sleep group than the awake group. And so we picked three -- picked three people who were totally blind to the -- the condition, and also knew nothing about the experiment, and just jumbled up all the words from all of the subjects' recall, and said we just want you to pick out 30 words that strike you as the most creative, novel, or bizarre. And -- and overwhelmingly people picked those intrusion errors from people who had been in the sleep group. So sleep, in addition to improving the details of your memory, and also improving the general gist or theme of -- of memory over time, it seems that sleep is actually leading to some form of creative processing, or some sort of associations to novel related -- definitely still related, but novel in this case words that you wouldn't necessarily predict. And you don't see that in the awake group very often at all.
15. What direction do you see your research heading?
>> And so I'm now interested in looking at the role that sleep might play in transforming memories over time. So we know that most time you recall a memory say of an event, that you don't recall it in its precise sort of veritical [phonetic] or truthful format. You have lots of insertions and distortions. Memories really do change quite a bit over time, and the question is why and how. And of course there are probably lots of different factors involved. But the thing I'm interested in exploring is if sleep plays a role in that -- in memories sort of changing and becoming qualitatively different over time -- if sleep is sort of a critical variable for that type of change to take place."(Payne, 2013)
Emotional Processes Across the Adult Life Span: Susan Charles
1. How did you become interested in psychology?
>> Well I decided to pursue a career as a psychologist who does research and is a professor of psychology because I think all of us in this country are raised with the idea that we're individuals and that everyone has unique physical attributes and perky personality traits and our own likes and dislikes and then when you start reading about psychology, you realize that this random chaos of behavior actually can be very organized and systematic and predictable and I enjoyed reading about psychology and understanding the patterns of development and the patterns of behavior and I realize that's what I wanted to study. And as far as being a professor, the goals of the academy are to teach students how to think critically and once people do that they never look at the world in the same way and it's really a marvelous phenomenon to watch and witness.
2. What is your current area of research?
>> I study emotional processes such as emotion regulation and how emotion regulation changes across the adult lifespan.
3. Can you explain the” socioemotional selectivity theory”?
>> Socio emotional selectivity theory is a theory that posits that our goals and motivations are shaped by our perceptions of time left in life so according to the theory, most of human behavior is directed by two overarching sets of goals. The first, our knowledge based and knowledge related goals and the second are emotion goals, the striving for emotional meaningness and satisfying experiences. So according to the theory, when we perceive a expansive long future ahead of us, our goals are motivated to expanding our horizons and seeking information and knowledge that we can then use for this long time ahead of us and once we see that the time left in life is running out, growing shorter, instead we focus our goals on emotional meaningful experiences and deriving satisfying experiences in life. Because age is normatively related to how much life how much time we have left in life, as we grow older our emotion related goals increased importance and salience with age.
4. What is emotion regulation and why is it important to everyday life?
>> Well emotion regulation is the ability to handle situations well, to -- to dissipate the negative experiences to solve problems. So to that extent, good emotion regulation strategies are important for every facet of life, and particularly interpersonal situations.
5. How is emotion regulation learned? How do children regulate their emotions?
>> Well, what contributes to emotion regulation, at the basis, it's something that have very little control over, and that is our parents and our rearing environment. So when we are children, we have emotion regulation modeled for us, and we learn how to regulate our emotions by watching others and modeling their behavior. So we, we see how other people regulate their emotions and we learn how to do this, and I think that oftentimes people forget just how much humans are influenced by their environment, so it's very important to remain in situations where people are modeling good behavior for us, and also situations where we can regulate our emotions. So we have to know ourselves, and know our limitations, and understand the situations that where we will thrive, and those that are more difficult for us and are more demanding for us.
6. Besides age, what other characteristics contribute to healthy emotion regulation? How does environment influence the experience of emotion?
>> One aspect of emotional regulation where we learn how to regulate our emotions are through our environment and that begins when we are quite young and so how our parents and our caregivers shape how they perceive situations and how they respond and they react to their emotions teaches us how to respond as well and this shaping, although doesn't have as much of an impact when we're adults, we still are very influenced by our environment so it's important for us to understand our limitations, know that we're affected by those around us and to surround ourselves in healthy environments and also to understand the situations that are best for us so certain jobs and opportunities might be very challenging and motivating, for some people it might be very frightening or upsetting for others and so we need to know the environments that work well for our own personalities.
7. What factors can be observed in emotional processes across the adult lifespan?
>> Well my laboratory's been working on a theory looking at age related strengths in emotion regulation and also age related vulnerabilities.
8. Are there biological differences in the ways in which older and younger adults experience emotions? What strengths and vulnerabilities come with age?
>> So we're examining age related strengths in emotion regulatory in emotion regulation and what we find in many studies by out of my laboratory and many other people, that the thoughts and behaviors people employ to regulate their emotions, people are doing that more people are using these strategies more effectively or more often with age. So for example, older people attend to more positive and fewer negative aspects of their environment, their memories are less negative than those of younger adults and they praise situations by not thinking about the negative aspects and downplaying the negative situations so they are employing these skills to a greater extent than younger adults and we think they're doing that as a function of time, both time left in life as described by socio emotional selectivity theory, so they're motivated to use these strategies and they have they're able to use these strategies as result of time lived and their accumulated experiences with effective emotion regulation experiences so they can use these skills quite well. So we see these increase in cognitive behavioral strategies with age. At the same time, however, there are age related vulnerabilities and that is that physiologically people respond to emotions and so the best way to respond to a very highly distressful experience, the best way to respond physiologically is to quickly respond, stay at that high level until you effectively respond and engage in the necessary behaviors and then quickly return to your baseline experience so for older adults it takes them a lot longer to respond physiologically and then they stay aroused for a prolonged period of time relative to younger adults. So in situations where older adults are unable or cannot use the cognitive behavioral strategies to either avoid a situation or to keep it from creating these physiological response with the release of Cortisol and a very high levels of distress, in those situations we will not see age related improvements.
9. Does the reduction of social contacts as we age have emotional consequences?
>> Well the reduction of social context do have emotional consequences but not in the way most people expect. So many people find one of the most reliable findings in social gerontology in fact is the decrease in numbers of social partners as we grow older and so when people are watching the older adults are interacting with fewer and fewer people, the natural response is to recognize that social interaction is generally related to levels of depression and loneliness and so looking at these low levels, at one time people were understandably upset and wanted to increase social interaction for older adults, thinking that was the answer and that would make them less lonely and less repressed. Well, further research revealed, that older adults were not less lonely and more depressed than younger adults and Laura Carson said in her socioemotional selectivity theory flushed this out a lot more for us in science and what she and her colleagues found was that older adults were interacting with fewer social partners but this decrease in social partners were all the less close more peripheral contacts that people have on a daily basis. For interactions with close social partners and with family members, they were not seeing those age related increases in those partners and those partners are the most meaningful and satisfying partners for people arguably of all ages, although older adults do report higher levels of positive emotional experiences when with family members than the younger adults.
10. Can older adults experience growth in the area of emotion regulation, despite the traditional view that aging equals decline?
>> Well, I believe that emotions are one area that where positive psychology finds fertile ground, and it's one area of the optimist because despite very real declines in many processes with age, social losses, economic losses, loss in social prestige perhaps from retirement, physiological decline and health problems. So there, despite this array of loss, older people are doing very well in regulating their emotions. And so this is one area that we see a lot of stability across time. We do sometimes see decreases in positive affect in the very end of life, which is often when people control for functional limitations and health problems. We no longer see that decrease so it might be related to health declines or exposure of social loss such as bereavement, care giving stressors, physiological dysfunction. So we do see reasons for decline, but overall, it's a very positive picture.
11. Do we place more or less value on emotional experiences as we age?
>> There is a greater value based on emotional experiences, and that is from our motivation to, to derive meaning and, and attend to pos, to emotionally in the environment more so because we're motivated by our time left in life.
12. How do retirement and the absence of career-driven motivations affect the need for emotional experiences? Do we value different aspects of emotional life as we age?
>> Well, people's priorities do change with, with age, and there are studies using the term and data and other situations as well that look at the values people place on different aspects of their lives. And so at all times I think family and, and friendships are very important for people, but you do see waxing and waning of other, of other values. So, for example, when people are working, that is something that they place value on, many people, and when they retire, then you'll see, especially among men, the term and data. So an older cohort, but there you see once retirement occurs, men are placing more and more emphasis on their families.
13. What has surprised you the most in your research?
>> So concerning what, what surprised me when I first started examining emotional processes across the adult lifespan, what frankly surprised me was the, was not finding as many gender differences as I thought I would in memories or emotion or report of emotional experiences. So researchers do, certainly, find gender differences, in, for example, in, in depressive, levels of depression. Certain affective disorders we do, but I did not find a lot in my research. Now that the older I get and the more I, I do research, I, I'm less surprised by my findings, but I still am fascinated and very interested in what I find and what other laboratories are finding.
14. Why do you think few gender differences were seen in your research?
>> The reason why I think we do not find the gender differences that, at least I expected, is that people who study behavioral expression of emotion do, indeed, find gender differences. And what we might all expect because it does conform to our stereotypes, men are less expressive. So men do not express their emotions as much as women. And so perhaps I naively interpreted not expressing the emotion as not experiencing it in the same way, but what, what my research and other people have shown is that there's very few gender differences. So, so despite the fact that men are not expressing their emotions, they are feeling emotions very similarly in, in many, many of the experiences that I've assessed.
15. What direction do you see your research heading?
>> So, my -- the directions where, where my research is heading is that we, in my laboratory, are very interested in, in really pinpointing these age related strengths, and age related vulnerabilities and how these strengths and vulnerabilities integrate together to be able to predict where we will see age related benefits and where we will see age related declines in emotion regulation. And I'm particularly interested in particular environments and situations that allow the interrelated strengths to express themselves, as well as situations where they won't. And so, for example, when people are faced with, and bombarded with unrelenting stressors in their lives from functional disability and from caregiving stress, then we will not expect the same efficacy in the conduct behavioral strategies and we will see more declines related to physiological dis-regulation and that's what we're looking at in the lab right now.
16. How do you choose research participants?
>> Obtaining these participants is always a challenge, we want as representative a group as we can get, and so we do call them on the telephone, do interviews over the telephone, bring them into, into the laboratories, so we -- some studies are a questionnaire and you try to go to where they live or to where they will be, so we use a combination of strategies. Although it's, it's always a challenge, you, you want to get a very diverse group, and sometimes certain groups are much harder to find, so -- but we try to use as many strategies that we can think of."(Charles, 2013)