Effects of increased processing demands on age differences in working memory

Psychol Aging. 1990 Sep;5(3):421-8. doi: 10.1037//0882-7974.5.3.421.


Three studies investigated (a) the plausibility of the claim that increasing the processing demands in a memory task contributes to greater involvement of a central processor and (b) the effects of altering reliance on the central processor on the magnitude of age-related differences in working-memory tasks. In the first study, young adults performed versions of 2 tasks presumed to vary in the degree of reliance on the central processor. In the second and third studies, young and older adults performed versions of a computation-span task that were assumed to vary along a rough continuum of the amount of required processing. The results indicated that although a central processor appears to be involved when working-memory tasks require simultaneous storage and processing of information, age-related differences in working memory seem to be determined at least as much by differences in the capacity of storage as by differences in the efficiency of processing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Attention*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Male
  • Mental Recall*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Retention, Psychology
  • Verbal Learning