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Paul Verhaeghen: Omega Minor

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Date and time
Monday, December 17, 2007

Paul Verhaeghen's discusses his book, *Omega Minor*, which has already been a bestseller in Europe and has won a number of prestigious literary awards there. His English translation has been published in the US, while he teaches psychology at Georgia Tech. Having been compared to such masters as Gunter Grass and Thomas Pynchon, the Flemish author's work is also described by National Book Award winner Richard Powers as taking on "the whole 20th century in a single novel."

Most of the work in Paul Verhaeghen lab centers around cognitive aging: What happens to people's minds as they grow older? His claim is that there are predictable lines along which people age, which he believes are a function of at least two things: whether the task is verbal or visuo-spatial, and whether the task involves a high need for cognitive control in working memory or not. The lab's current experimental work focuses on the latter part: the cognitive control hypothesis. Cognitive control concerns dealing with complex tasks in a complex environment, which includes: making sure that only the appropriate stimuli from the environment enter into consciousness; continuously updating the content of working memory; switching between different tasks; coordinating the different actions that need to be performed; and switching back and forth between relevant stimuli.