The Role of Processing Resources in Cognitive Aging

  • Timothy A. Salthouse
Part of the Springer Series in Cognitive Development book series (SSCOG)


The goal of this chapter is to examine and elaborate a theoretical perspective on cognitive aging, based on the concept that at least some age-related impairments in cognition are attributable to a reduction in a critical processing resource required for the successful completion of many cognitive tasks. Because the chapter is rather lengthy, a brief outline of its organization is presented. The initial section specifies the scope of phenomena to be addressed, and the second section briefly documents the existence and approximate magnitude of these phenomena with several types of comparisons. Categories of possible explanations for these age differences in cognition are then discussed, followed by a review of previous application of the processing resources concept in explanations of cognitive aging phenomena. Methods of investigating the nature and role of processing resources in cognitive aging are discussed next, followed by a report of three new research studies designed to analyze the contribution of processing resources to age differences in cognitive functioning. The final sections consist of a reappraisal of the resources construct and a critical examination of alternative methods of subjecting it to investigation.


Cognitive Task Secondary Task Cognitive Aging Processing Resource Digit Symbol 
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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1988

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  • Timothy A. Salthouse

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