Education does not protect against age-related decline of switching focal attention in working memory

Brain Cogn. 2007 Jul;64(2):158-63. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2007.02.005. Epub 2007 Mar 29.

Abstract

In this experimental study, effects of age and education on switching focal attention in working memory were investigated among 44 young (20-30 years) and 40 middle-aged individuals (50-60 years). To this end, a numeric n-back task comprising two lag conditions (1- and 2-back) was administered within groups. The results revealed a comparable increase of reaction time as a function of lag across age groups, but a disproportionate decrease of accuracy in the middle-aged relative to the young group. The latter effect did not interact with education, which challenges the cognitive reserve hypothesis. Moreover, the high-educated middle-aged participants showed a greater increase of reaction time as a function of lag than their low-educated counterparts. Apparently, they were not able to sustain their relatively high response speed across conditions. These results suggest that education does not protect against age-related decline of switching focal attention in working memory.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Field Dependence-Independence*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Reference Values