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Does limited working memory capacity underlie age differences in associative long-term memory?


Bartsch, Lea M; Loaiza, Vanessa M; Oberauer, Klaus (2019). Does limited working memory capacity underlie age differences in associative long-term memory? Psychology and Aging, 34(2):268-281.

Abstract

Past research has consistently shown that episodic memory (EM) declines with adult age and, according to the associative-deficit hypothesis, the locus of this decline is binding difficulties. We investigated the importance of establishing and maintaining bindings in working memory (WM) for age differences in associative EM. In Experiment 1 we adapted the presentation rate of word pairs for each participant to achieve 67% correct responses during a WM test of bindings in young and older adults. EM for the pairs was tested thereafter in the same way as WM. Equating WM for bindings between young and older adults reduced, but did not fully eliminate, the associative EM deficit in the older adults. In Experiment 2 we varied the set size of word pairs in a WM test, retaining the mean presentation rates for each age group from Experiment 1. If a WM deficit at encoding causes the EM deficit in older adults, both WM and EM performance should decrease with increasing set size. Against this prediction, increasing set size did not affect EM. We conclude that reduced WM capacity does not cause the EM deficit of older adults. Rather, both WM and EM deficits are reflections of a common cause, which can be compensated for by longer encoding time. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved).

Abstract

Past research has consistently shown that episodic memory (EM) declines with adult age and, according to the associative-deficit hypothesis, the locus of this decline is binding difficulties. We investigated the importance of establishing and maintaining bindings in working memory (WM) for age differences in associative EM. In Experiment 1 we adapted the presentation rate of word pairs for each participant to achieve 67% correct responses during a WM test of bindings in young and older adults. EM for the pairs was tested thereafter in the same way as WM. Equating WM for bindings between young and older adults reduced, but did not fully eliminate, the associative EM deficit in the older adults. In Experiment 2 we varied the set size of word pairs in a WM test, retaining the mean presentation rates for each age group from Experiment 1. If a WM deficit at encoding causes the EM deficit in older adults, both WM and EM performance should decrease with increasing set size. Against this prediction, increasing set size did not affect EM. We conclude that reduced WM capacity does not cause the EM deficit of older adults. Rather, both WM and EM deficits are reflections of a common cause, which can be compensated for by longer encoding time. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved).

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
08 Research Priority Programs > Dynamics of Healthy Aging
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:DoktoratPsych Erstautor
Language:English
Date:1 March 2019
Deposited On:03 Dec 2018 12:03
Last Modified:29 Jul 2019 07:56
Publisher:American Psychological Association
ISSN:0882-7974
Additional Information:This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the final, authoritative version of the article. Please do not copy or cite without authors' permission. The final article will be available, upon publication, via its DOI: 10.1037/pag0000317 The data and the analysis scripts can be accessed on the Open Science Framework (https://osf.io/n8es5/).
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1037/pag0000317
PubMed ID:30407033

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