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Neuropsychology. 2001 Jan;15(1):3-17.

Is the dissociability of working memory systems for name identity, visual-object identity, and spatial location maintained in old age?

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Department of Psychology, Scripps College, Claremont, California 91711, USA.


The dissociability of working memory for name identity (verbal information), visual objects, and spatial location was explored in 3 experiments. Consistent with previous results, the 3 working memory systems were dissociable in younger adults. Both younger and older adults showed involvement of name identity in an object identity task, and older adults showed this involvement in a spatial memory task. Results were interpreted as showing that the systems are generally separable but that involvement of 1 with another is possible and more likely in older adults. A 4th, correlational study showed that there is generalized decline in working memory systems in old age, with the age differences in memory mediated to a moderate extent by age-related differences in speed of processing. It was speculated that the specific, possibly strategic changes are independent of and take place against a backdrop of generalized loss of nervous system integrity.

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