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Dev Psychol. 2007 Mar;43(2):465-78.

Memory plasticity across the life span: uncovering children's latent potential.

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Center for Lifespan Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany.


Memory plasticity, or the ability to improve one's memory performance through instruction and training, is known to decline during adulthood. However, direct comparisons among middle childhood, adulthood, and old age are lacking. The authors examined memory plasticity in an age-comparative multisession training study. One hundred and eight participants ages 9-10, 11-12, 20-25, and 65-78 years learned and practiced an imagery-based mnemonic technique to encode and retrieve words by location cues. Individuals of all ages were able to acquire and optimize use of the technique. Older adults and children showed similar baseline performance and improvement through mnemonic instruction. However, in line with tenets from life-span psychology (P. B. Baltes, 1987), children profited more from mnemonic practice and reached higher levels of final performance than did older adults.

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