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An Age-Related Deficit in Preserving the Benefits of Attention in Working Memory

Loaiza, Vanessa and Souza, Alessandra (2018) 'An Age-Related Deficit in Preserving the Benefits of Attention in Working Memory.' Psychology and Aging. ISSN 0882-7974 (In Press)

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Abstract

Deficits in the use of attention to refresh representations are argued to underlie age-related decline in working memory (WM). Retro-cues guide attention to WM contents , enabling the direct assessment of refreshing in WM. This preregistered study investigated aging deficits in refreshing via retro-cues and the preservation of refreshing boosts after distraction incurred by a secondary task. The distractor task is assumed to impede refreshing by engaging attention away from the memoranda. Any free time avail able before or after distractor processing, however, can be used to resume refreshing thereby ameliorating distractor-related interference. Accordingly, by varying t he time available to complete the distractor task , one can vary refreshing opportunities, a n effect known as cognitive load. Using an individually calibrated task that control led for WM capacity and speed of processing, we demonstrate that focusing attention on WM representations is similarly efficient in younger and older adults. However, younger adults were able to retain this retro-cue benefit despite increasing cognitive load, whereas increasing cognitive load reduced the retro-cue benefit in older adults, suggesting that they are less able to protect focused representations from distractor-interference. This shows that aging impacts specific subcomponents of refreshing , such that the benefit of focusing attention is relatively intact in older age, but older adults struggle to preserve the refreshing benefit against distraction.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: working memory, attention, refreshing, retro-cues
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 23 Nov 2018 15:18
Last Modified: 23 Nov 2018 16:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/23479

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