Update; BrandeisNOW has a in-depth profile on Prof. Wingfield.
Professor Arthur Wingfield is the 2010 recipient of the Baltes Distinguished Research Achievement Award. The $5000 award, given annually by the Margaret M. and Paul B. Baltes Foundation and Division 20 (Adult Development and Aging) of the American Psychological Association (APA), recognizes outstanding contributions to our understanding of adult development and aging. As part of the award, Wingfield will deliver a keynote address at the next annual meeting of the APA.
The number of adults age 65 or older in the US is expected to grow from 35 million in the year 2000, to 70.3 million in 2030. Among this group, hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic medical condition, exceeded only by arthritis and hypertension. The hearing loss associated with adult aging, or presbycusis (literally, “old hearing”) presents a more complex picture than many realize. Whether the loss is mild or more severe, the source is a thinning of hair cells located in the cochlea, a spiral-shaped structure about only the size of the nail on your little finger. There are also “higher level” effects that include the pathways from the cochea to the brain, and age-related changes in the auditory receiving areas of the brain itself. These biological changes result in the older listener expending attentional effort that is not only tiring, but can draw on resources that would ordinarily be available for encoding what has been heard in memory.
This recent award recognizes Wingfield and his Brandeis colleagues’ contributions to understanding this complex interaction between sensory and cognitive changes in adult aging. Arthur Wingfield is the Nancy Lurie Marks Professor of Neuroscience and director of the Volen National Center for Complex Systems at Brandeis. His work has also been recognized by the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association, and two successive MERIT Awards from the NIH’s National Institute on Aging.