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Dev Psychol. 2006 Nov;42(6):1089-102.

Life-span development of visual working memory: when is feature binding difficult?

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  • 1Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA.


We asked whether the ability to keep in working memory the binding between a visual object and its spatial location changes with development across the life span more than memory for item information. Paired arrays of colored squares were identical or differed in the color of one square, and in the latter case, the changed color was unique on that trial (item change) or was duplicated elsewhere in the array (color-location binding change). Children (8-10 and 11-12 years old) and older adults (65-85 years old) showed deficits relative to young adults. These were only partly simulated by dividing attention in young adults. The older adults had an additional deficiency, specifically in binding information, which was evident only when item- and binding-change trials were mixed together. In that situation, the older adults often overlooked the more subtle, binding-type changes. Some working memory processes related to binding undergo life-span development in an inverted-U shape, whereas other, bias- and salience-related processes that influence the use of binding information seem to develop monotonically.

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