Age-related sex differences in verbal memory

J Clin Psychol. 1988 May;44(3):403-11. doi: 10.1002/1097-4679(198805)44:3<403::aid-jclp2270440315>;2-0.


Verbal learning and memory were studied in 196 healthy men and women aged 40 to 89. The Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Task (RAVLT), a 15-word list, was presented over five trials followed by free recall after each trial. A recognition trial of 50 words subsequently was administered. A stepwise regression that examined the contributions of age, sex, and vocabulary on the five trials of the RAVLT showed that age and sex accounted for a significant portion of the variance on each trial. Vocabulary accounted for a significant portion of the variance only on trials 4 and 5. The recognition trial was not affected by age, sex, or vocabulary. Men had lower scores overall as compared to women. In the older age group (ages 66-89), this difference was significant on trials two through five. Possible mechanisms that may underlie these age-related sex differences in learning curves are discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Mental Recall*
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychological Tests
  • Reference Values
  • Sex Factors
  • Verbal Learning*