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Neuropsychol Dev Cogn B Aging Neuropsychol Cogn. 2017 May;24(3):281-298. doi: 10.1080/13825585.2016.1202188. Epub 2016 Jun 30.

Working memory in healthy aging and in Parkinson's disease: evidence of interference effects.

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a Department of General Psychology , University of Padova , Padova , Italy.
b Department of Psychology , University of Milano-Bicocca , Milan , Italy.
c NeuroMI - Milan Center for Neuroscience , Milan , Italy.
d Human Inspired Technologies Research Center, University of Padova , Padova , Italy.
e Department of Neurosciences, Biomedicine and Movement Sciences, Neurology Section , University of Verona , Verona , Italy.
f Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC), Bielefeld University , Bielefeld , Germany.


Focusing on relevant information while suppressing the irrelevant one are critical abilities for different cognitive processes. However, their functioning has been scarcely investigated in the working memory (WM) domain, in both healthy and pathological conditions. The present research aimed to study these abilities in aging and Parkinson's disease (PD), testing three groups of healthy participants (young, older and elderly) and one of PD patients, employing a new experimental paradigm. Results showed that the transient storing of irrelevant information in WM causes substantial interference effects, which were remarkable in elderly individuals on both response latency and accuracy. Interestingly, PD patients responded faster and were equally accurate compared to a matched control group. Taken together, findings confirm the existence of similar mechanisms for orienting attention inwards to WM contents or outwards to perceptual stimuli, and suggest the suitability of our task to assess WM functioning in both healthy aging and PD.


Parkinson’s disease; Working memory; aging; inhibition; interference

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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