Q&A with Teal Eich

Teal Eich, assistant professor of gerontology, is a cognitive neuroscientist who explores age-related changes in brain function.

Q: What questions are you tackling?
A: Why does memory decline, and why is there so much variability in memory with age? Memory problems in aging might actually be problems with selecting the right information to remember; older adults may be more prone to encode irrelevant information that interferes with relevant memory. My lab has shown that changes to several brain areas seem to be related to this.

Q: What has neuroimaging revealed about Alzheimer’s?
A: Functional magnetic resonance imaging has revealed a network of brain areas, called the default mode network, that is connected when people are resting and consolidating memories but breaks down in Alzheimer’s.

Q: What are some surprising findings about cognition and aging?
A: Cues that people use to learn information may shift with age. When we retested younger and older adults on trivia questions they initially got wrong, younger adults tended to get the questions they had initially gotten wrong with high confidence right on the second test. But older adults didn’t seem to use their initial confidence from the first test as much; on the second test, they correctly updated questions they had gotten wrong with high and low confidence. These different patterns may point to different memorial strategies that change with age.