In the Zone: Flow State and Cognition in Older Adults

Brennan R. Payne, Joshua J. Jackson, Soo Rim Noh, Elizabeth A.L. Stine-Morrow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The current study investigated the nature of the flow state among older adults. Flow is a pleasurable experiential state that occurs during full-capacity engagement in which an individual is performing at a level that is matched with the demands of the task. Each participant completed a scale assessing dimensions of flow in a particular activity selected by the participant. More cognitively demanding activities elicited higher levels of flow for those with higher fluid ability, but lower levels of flow for those with lower fluid ability. This pattern was reversed for activities that were low in demand. Our data highlight the potential importance of considering motivational states such as flow in understanding cognitive optimization in adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)738-743
Number of pages6
JournalPsychology and aging
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2011


  • Activity engagement
  • Activity flow state scale
  • Cognitive aging
  • Flow
  • Motivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Social Psychology

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