Attention and memory evaluation across the life span: heterogeneous effects of age and education

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2006 May;28(4):477-94. doi: 10.1080/13803390590949296.


The developmental sequences of attention and memory were studied by utilizing normative data derived from the neuropsychological battery named NEUROPSI ATTENTION AND MEMORY. A sample of 521 Spanish-speaking individuals, aged 6 to 85 years, participated in this study. In the adult sample, educational level ranged from 0 to 22 years of education. Data from subtests measuring orientation, attention and concentration, executive functions, working memory, immediate and delayed verbal memory, and immediate and delayed visual memory were included. The factor structure of the analyzed battery is presented. The effects of age and education on this structure were analyzed. Results suggested that although attention and memory are related, their developmental sequences are separated from one another. During childhood, the development of selective and sustained attention, attentional-working memory, and executive functions showed a fast improvement in performance. Development of verbal memory and place and person orientation showed a slower increment in scores. In the adult sample it was found that factors related to memory are sensitive to age, whereas those related to attention and executive functions are sensitive to education. The consideration of both the developmental sequence, as well as differential effects of education, can improve the sensitivity and specificity of neuropsychological measures, allowing early diagnosis of cognitive dysfunction and implementation of adequate rehabilitation programs.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Child
  • Educational Status*
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Orientation / physiology
  • Perception / classification
  • Perception / physiology
  • Problem Solving / physiology
  • Verbal Learning / physiology