Aging between cognition and motivation


Summary: Cognition explains behavioral development in children up to the age of adulthood; at that time it reaches a plateau in the eyes of society. I use this observation to suggest that this is the time when motivation takes over as the engine of change behind behavioral aging. The personality model used in George and Mary (GaM) offers an explanation, where aging lowers the transmission capacity of the brain as an information channel.

It is self evident that children develop their cognitive skills as they grow up, and that their incomplete faculties have special legal and social status. We have ages of maturity at 16 and 18 years to signify that children attain legal levels of cognitive abilities. If an adult person is legally deficient in his/her cognitive faculties then society and its instruments usually take the deficiency into account at trials, wills and other legal matters. But our preferences, attitudes and context on life keep changing with age beyond maturity, which suggests the question: Are behavioral changes beyond adulthood cognitive in nature? If it were then I would expect some age-linked changes in legal definitions of adult personal responsibilities, which I could not find. This observation lead me to believe that a purely cognitive model of personality cannot account for normal behavioral changes beyond adulthood, and that it must be largely motivational.

The personality model used in George and Mary (GaM) has four drives, three homeostatic and one priming drive. For brevity, I will call this the 4D model. For homeostatic drives, the information theory behind the 4D model puts the body as the source and the brain as the transmission channel for emanating motivational needs and behaviors.
Age slows down the brain; this should come as no surprise to anyone! Here, the hypothesis is that the brainís average channel capacity goes down with age after reaching adulthood. Consequently homeostatic drives will have fewer motivational categories with age, the faster drives with higher variety are affected before the slow ones. Motivational categories relate to the magnitude and direction of a drive, such as aggression in the context of Feeding or exhilaration in the context of Parenting. GaM implements fuzzy logic algorithm in order to model the process of aging of the drives; upon selecting a choice of age in years, the probabilities of targeting the drives are automatically calculated and assigned. The context of the resulting dialog will change in simulation of the assigned age.

Conclusions: The contextual change associated with gradual aging in adulthood may be explained in motivational terms. GaM is an implementation of motivational aging, where the selection of categories mimics aging in the context of the dialog.

About the author: Faisal L. Kadri is an independent researcher not affiliated with any educational institution. His research interest since 1986 is in applying the mathematical tools of nonlinear systems engineering to modeling motivational mechanisms in animals and humans. For more information please visit: 

Copyright © 2006 Faisal L. Kadri, all rights reserved. Reproduction of this article in Internet media is permitted on condition that all links are maintained. Use in college essays welcome.