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Do binding deficits account for age-related decline in visual working memory?

Abstract

Remembering visual material, such as objects, faces, and spatial locations, over a short period of time (seconds) becomes more difficult as we age. We investigated whether these deficits could be explained by a simple reduction in visual working memory capacity or by an impairment in one’s ability to form or maintain appropriate associations among pieces of related information. In three experiments, we used recognition and recall tests to address the efficacy with which older adults can create bound object representations by varying the number of features of each object that had to be remembered for a subsequent memory test. Results demonstrated that whereas older adults exhibited reduced memory capacity as compared with that of younger adults, both groups stored integrated object representations in visual working memory. These results are contrasted with other work that suggests that age-related memory decline is due, at least in part, to associative deficits.

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Correspondence to James R. Brockmole.

Additional information

This research was supported by British Academy Grant SG-43564 awarded to J.R.B. and R.H.L; M.A.P. was further supported by Programme Alban, Scholarship No. E04D048179CO.

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Brockmole, J.R., Parra, M.A., Sala, S.D. et al. Do binding deficits account for age-related decline in visual working memory?. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 15, 543–547 (2008). https://doi.org/10.3758/PBR.15.3.543

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Keywords

  • Retention Interval
  • Object Representation
  • Recall Task
  • Visual Working Memory
  • Mixed Model ANOVA