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Charles Brainerd, chair of Cornell's Department of Human Development and an expert in the scientific study of human cognition, discussed the effects of normal aging and diseases of late adulthood on memory, March 1, 2012 as part of the Cornell Faculty Career and Life Speaker Series.

Brainerd contends that declines in memory for life events are a normal part of healthy aging; that memory declines are not across-the-board; that these declines are concentrated within a narrow set of abilities that is often called "verbatim" memory; and that some of the most important memory abilities are spared even for people in their eighties and nineties. More extensive memory declines, he says, are the main diagnostic symptoms of the two most common forms of cognitive impairment in older adults: mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's dementia.