Aging and context effects in working memory: an event-related potential investigation


Click to enlarge

Psychonomics Society Annual Meeting 2018


Older adults exhibit deficits in working memory function compared to younger adults. The goal of this multiple experiment study was to examine the role played by context integration in age-related differences in working memory performance. Behavioral and neurophysiological measures were taken while participants engaged in two tasks to address potential age group differences in working memory encoding, retrieval, and context integration. We observed an age-related reduction in resource reserves that led to losses when the older adults’ comparatively lower resource capacities were exceeded by task demands. ERP analyses suggested that these effects were associated with working memory access deficits with aging. Older adults also exhibited more diffuse, and frontal activations. We conclude that resource consumption is the most likely candidate to drive age group differences in working memory performance and that this difference is the result of age-related deficits in accessing offline working memory stores.


James R. Houston, Mei-Ching Lien, Michelle L. Hughes, Peter R. Mallik, Philip A. Allen