This article distinguishes between normal and pathological aging, provides an interdisciplinary context, and then considers a sample case of cognitive aging. Developmental influences on cognition include the physiological infrastructure, genetic predispositions, and environmental influences. Different types of longitudinal studies are distinguished, and contrasting findings of cross-sectional and longitudinal are examined in the sample case of the Seattle Longitudinal Study. Also considered is the longitudinal context for intervention studies and the role of longitudinal family studies in assessing rate of aging and generational differences in rates of aging. Finally, attention is given to the role of longitudinal studies in the early detection of risk for dementia in advanced age.