Working memory and inhibitory control across the life span: Intrusion errors in the Reading Span Test

Mem Cognit. 2009 Apr;37(3):336-45. doi: 10.3758/MC.37.3.336.


The aim of this study was to examine to what extent inhibitory control and working memory capacity are related across the life span. Intrusion errors committed by children and younger and older adults were investigated in two versions of the Reading Span Test. In Experiment 1, a mixed Reading Span Test with items of various list lengths was administered. Older adults and children recalled fewer correct words and produced more intrusions than did young adults. Also, age-related differences were found in the type of intrusions committed. In Experiment 2, an adaptive Reading Span Test was administered, in which the list length of items was adapted to each individual's working memory capacity. Age groups differed neither on correct recall nor on the rate of intrusions, but they differed on the type of intrusions. Altogether, these findings indicate that the availability of attentional resources influences the efficiency of inhibition across the life span.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Attention*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term*
  • Middle Aged
  • Reading*
  • Verbal Learning*