Affiliations: Jacobs Center on Lifelong Learning and Institutional
Development, Jacobs University Bremen, Campus Ring 1, D-28759 Bremen. E-mail: [email protected]
Abstract: In contrast to cognitive functioning emotion processing is regarded
as relatively stable over the lifespan. Several studies, however, show
differences in processing emotions between older and younger adults – on a
behavioral as well as a neural level. These differences are usually explained
in terms of learning and an altered motivation whereas biological aging is not
seen as playing a role. At the behavioral level a positivity effect is reported
which refers to an enhanced processing of positive stimuli as well as a reduced
processing of negative stimuli in older adults. At the neural level a reduced
amygdala activity as well as an increased frontal cortex activity is reported.
These neural alterations are usually interpreted as a motivational top-down
process. New findings from our working group suggest, however, that brain aging
processes are also related to the found age-related alterations in emotion processing.