Recent Projects

Older adults and volunteering

We are examining the attributes of the older adult who volunteered in the caring clown program and the psychosocial benefits to the older adult clown in participating in this form of volunteerism. Program participants are surveyed about their life and program experiences  and asked to complete psychosocial measures of life satisfaction, self-esteem, extraversion, resourcefulness, depression, life purpose, loneliness and resourcefulness  prior to the caring clown program, during training, at the end of training and six months after program completion.

Assessing the accuracy of older adults’ self-assessment of night driving

Self-reports of driving difficulties by older drivers are often considered in road planning, development of in-vehicle safety devices, and driver training programs. However, little is known about the accuracy of self-reported night driving difficulties, how these perceptions are related to actual driving performance, and whether these reports should guide engineering practice and driver training.

Changes in Multistable Perception in the Oldest Old Adults

Multistable perception occurs when a single ambiguous stimulus results in two or more spontaneous percepts (e.g. Necker Cube). Stretzer et al. (2009) show that multistable perception can help researchers to understand the constructive nature of visual processing and how individuals resolve their experiences in the face of often fragmented inputs.  Age related visual declines are frequently reported, but the contributing sources of those declines are less well understood. Indeed, the oldest-old adults (80+) are known to have declines to both neural structures and cognitive processes (e.g. attention and inhibition) that impact vision and are beyond those of their younger-old counterparts (65-79).  The impact of these declines on the constructive nature of visual processing was the focus of this study.