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J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 1989 May;15(3):507-16.

Effects of adult age and working memory on reasoning and spatial abilities.

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School of Psychology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta 30332.


Three predictions were derived from the hypothesis that adult age differences in certain measures of cognitive functioning are attributable to age-related reductions in a processing resource such as working-memory capacity. Each prediction received at least some degree of empirical support in a study involving 120 males ranging between 20 and 79 years of age. First, older adults exhibited greater impairments of performance than did young adults when task complexity increased and more demands were placed on the limited processing resources; second, the magnitudes of these complexity effects were highly correlated across verbal (reasoning) and spatial (paper folding) tasks. Finally, statistical control of an index of a working-memory processing resource attenuated the effects of age on the measures of cognitive performance. It was concluded that further progress in understanding the mechanisms of the relation between age and cognitive functioning will require improved conceptualizations of the nature of working memory or other hypothesized mediating constructs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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