2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Seminar Series: Ursula M. Staudinger, PhD
"Plasticity of Aging: Lifespan Perspectives"
Aging is neither biologically nor contextually determined. Instead it is probabilistic in nature, as it is the result of continuous interactions between biological and sociocultural forces. This is why a given individual’s aging trajectory can take many different shapes within biological limits. This intraindividual variability has been labeled ‘plasticity of human development’. Examples from demography, epidemiology, cognitive and personality psychology are introduced to illustrate the plasticity of aging and its limits. Limits of plasticity have been identified for very old age and in highly developed nations. Given the findings accumulating from the field of epigenetics, the question arises whether these age-related limits are biological constants that outlast even sociocultural change or whether these limits also underlie historical change. Recently, evidence has become available that highlights the fact that plasticity is personalized. Given this plasticity of aging, it is worthwhile compiling more and more scientific knowledge about how to optimize aging. It is pivotal to systematically collect cohort- and country-comparative longitudinal data on biological and behavioral parameters to being able to better capture such influences.