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J Clin Psychol. 1988 May;44(3):403-11.

Age-related sex differences in verbal memory.

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Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Department of Neurology, Baltimore, Maryland 21224.


Verbal learning and memory were studied in 196 healthy men and women aged 40 to 89. The Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Task (RAVLT), a 15-word list, was presented over five trials followed by free recall after each trial. A recognition trial of 50 words subsequently was administered. A stepwise regression that examined the contributions of age, sex, and vocabulary on the five trials of the RAVLT showed that age and sex accounted for a significant portion of the variance on each trial. Vocabulary accounted for a significant portion of the variance only on trials 4 and 5. The recognition trial was not affected by age, sex, or vocabulary. Men had lower scores overall as compared to women. In the older age group (ages 66-89), this difference was significant on trials two through five. Possible mechanisms that may underlie these age-related sex differences in learning curves are discussed.

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