January 5, 2012 — The Society of Experimental Psychologists has named Timothy Salthouse, Brown-Forman Professor of Psychology in the University of Virginia's College of Arts & Sciences, a fellow – one of 10 psychologists from around the nation chosen this year for the distinction.
Salthouse leads a long-term study on the effects of aging on cognition – one's ability to think, remember, learn, judge and to be aware. Study participants range in age from 16 to 98. His studies of how the brain changes as people age have provided groundbreaking insights.
One of the unique features of Salthouse's project in U.Va.'s Cognitive Aging Laboratory is that many of the participants – of which there are hundreds – return to the laboratory for repeated assessments after intervals of one to seven years.
By using a variety of tests to measure the cognitive function of study participants over time, Salthouse is gaining insight to cognition changes, and, possibly, ways to alleviate or slow rates of cognitive decline. By better understanding the processes of cognitive impairment, researchers and clinicians may become better at predicting the onset of dementias such as Alzheimer's disease.
The Society of Experimental Psychologists is the oldest and one of the most prestigious honorary societies in the field of psychology. Founded in 1904, it holds annual spring meetings, which are plenary and involve papers from various members of the society. The next meeting will be held April 13-14 at Rice University in Houston.
The society currently admits at least six new members annually from among the leading experimentalists in North America.
With a current membership of 220 individuals – about 5 percent to 10 percent of the practicing experimental psychologists in the United States – the society's objective is "to advance psychology by arranging informal conferences on experimental psychology."
"Tim is the world's preeminent researcher of how aging influences cognition," said Dennis Proffitt, Commonwealth Professor of Psychology at U.Va. and also a SEP Fellow. "His selection was most deserving."
In addition to Salthouse and Proffitt, three other U.Va. psychology department faculty members are fellows in the society, including Judy DeLoache, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Psychology; visiting professor William Epstein; and professor Michael Kubovy.
"Five is a very high number for one University and reflects the strength of our psychology department," Proffitt noted.