Adult age differences in working memory

Psychol Aging. 1989 Dec;4(4):500-3. doi: 10.1037//0882-7974.4.4.500.


Active and passive measures of short-term memory over a large segment of the adult life span were compared. Two hundred twenty-eight volunteers, aged 30 to 99 years, performed the digit span forward and backward task, the Peterson-Peterson task, and a new working memory task in which active manipulation of information is emphasized. Age differences were slight for passive tasks. For the working memory task, significant declines were found between the ages of 60 to 69 and 70+ years. It is suggested that the age differences may be due to a decrease in the flexibility with which processing changes are made.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term*
  • Middle Aged
  • Task Performance and Analysis