Reallocation of Mental Resources over the Productive Lifespan

Assumptions and Task Analyses
  • Roy Lachman
  • Janet L. Lachman
  • Don W. Taylor
Part of the Advances in the Study of Communication and Affect book series (ASCA, volume 8)


Changes in intelligent behavior over the working lifespan are analyzed within an information-processing framework. Methodological issues raised by previous aging research were examined in conjunction with a preliminary task analysis based on computational theory. A survey of the recent literature was first presented revealing that (a) most studies are cross-sectional; (b) few researchers systematically insure age-group comparability; and (c) all older subjects are functional volunteers, possibly unlike subjects who do not volunteer. The assumptions underlying these practices were analyzed. Their consequences are potentially serious enough to undermine most generalizations in the cognitive aging literature. A study using a broad array of cognitive tasks tested the underlying assumptions. Old and young subjects were carefully equated by drawing samples from a homogeneous population of white female schoolteachers. Non- volunteers were induced to participate by payment of a large honorarium, and their performance on a broad array of tasks included some that reflect current trends in information-processing research (metamemory, inference, world knowledge) and others that were chosen because of their popularity in the surveyed literature (WAIS subtests, recall, recognition). They were classified in a four-way ordered set reflecting evolutionary considerations and information-processing theory, into tasks involving information maintenance, location and creation, and system interrogation.


Information Location Time Machine Question Answering World Knowledge Young Teacher 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roy Lachman
    • 1
  • Janet L. Lachman
    • 1
  • Don W. Taylor
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of HoustonHoustonUSA

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