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Lindenberger, Ulman, Lövdén, Martin, Schellenbach, Michael, Li, Shu-Chen and Krüger, Antonio (2008): Psychological principles of successful aging technologies: A mini-review. In: Gerontology, No. 1: pp. 59-68 [PDF, 187kB]


Based on resource-oriented conceptions of successful life-span development, we propose three principles for evaluating assistive technology: (a) net resource release; (b) person specificity, and (c) proximal versus distal frames of evaluation. We discuss how these general principles can aid the design and evaluation of assistive technology in adulthood and old age, and propose two technological strategies, one targeting sensorimotor and the other cognitive functioning. The sensorimotor strategy aims at releasing cognitive resources such as attention and working memory by reducing the cognitive demands of sensory or sensorimotor aspects of performance. The cognitive strategy attempts to provide adaptive and individualized cuing structures orienting the individual in time and space by providing prompts that connect properties of the environment to the individual's action goals. We argue that intelligent assistive technology continuously adjusts the balance between `environmental support' and `self-initiated processing' in person-specific and aging-sensitive ways, leading to enhanced allocation of cognitive resources. Furthermore, intelligent assistive technology may foster the generation of formerly latent cognitive resources by activating developmental reserves (plasticity). We conclude that `lifespan technology', if co-constructed by behavioral scientists, engineers, and aging individuals, offers great promise for improving both the transition from middle adulthood to old age and the degree of autonomy in old age in present and future generations. Copyright (C) 2008 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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