[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent studies suggest that working memory training may benefit older adults; however, findings regarding training and transfer effects are mixed. The current study aimed to investigate the effects of a process-based training intervention in a diverse sample of older adults and explored possible moderators of training and transfer effects. For that purpose, 80 older adults (65-95 years) were assigned either to a training group that worked on visuospatial, verbal, and executive working memory tasks for 9 sessions over 3 weeks or to a control group. Performance on trained and transfer tasks was assessed in all participants before and after the training period, as well as at a 9-month follow-up. Analyses revealed significant training effects in all 3 training tasks in trained participants relative to controls, as well as near transfer to a verbal working memory task and far transfer to a fluid intelligence task. Encouragingly, all training effects and the transfer effect to verbal working memory were stable at the 9-month follow-up session. Further analyses revealed that training gains were predicted by baseline performance in training tasks and (to a lesser degree) by age. Gains in transfer tasks were predicted by age and by the amount of improvement in the trained tasks. These findings suggest that cognitive plasticity is preserved over a large range of old age and that even a rather short training regime can lead to (partly specific) training and transfer effects. However, baseline performance, age, and training gains moderate the amount of plasticity. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prospective memory performance shows a decline in late adulthood. The present article examines the role of 3 main executive function facets (i.e., shifting, updating, and inhibition) as possible developmental mechanisms associated with these age effects. One hundred seventy-five young and 110 older adults performed a battery of cognitive tests including measures of prospective memory, shifting, updating, inhibition, working memory, and speed. Age effects were confirmed in prospective memory and also obtained in shifting, updating, and inhibition. Yet, facets of executive control differently predicted prospective memory performance: While inhibition and shifting were strong predictors of prospective memory performance and also explained age differences in prospective memory, updating was not related to prospective memory performance across adulthood. Furthermore, considering executive function measures increased the amount of explained variance in prospective remembering and reduced the influence of speed. Working memory was not revealed to serve as a significant predictor of prospective memory performance in the present study. These findings clarify the role of different facets of controlled attention on age effects in prospective memory and bear important conceptual implications: Results suggest that some but not all facets of executive functioning are important developmental mechanisms of prospective memory across adulthood beyond working memory and speed. Specifically, inhibition and shifting appear to be essential aspects of cognitive control involved in age-related prospective memory performance. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Old-old age (80+ years) is associated with substantial cognitive decline. In this population, training-induced cognitive plasticity has rarely been studied. While earlier findings on strategy trainings suggested reduced training gains in old-old age, recent results of an extensive process-based working memory (WM) training have been more positive.
Following up on previous research, the present study aimed at examining the effects of a short WM training in old-old adults and the influence of baseline WM capacity on training gains.
A training group (mean age: 86.8 years) and a matched control group (mean age: 87.1 years) participated in the study. The WM training consisted of five tasks that were trained in each of 10 sessions. To evaluate possible transfer effects, executive functions were assessed with two tests before and after training. The training group was divided via median split in high- and low-capacity individuals to determine the influence of baseline WM capacity on training gains.
The training group improved in four of the trained tasks (medium-to-large effects). Training gains were significantly larger in the training group than in the control group in only two of those tasks. The training effects were mainly driven by the low-capacity individuals who improved in all trained tasks. No transfer effects were observed.
These positive effects of a short WM training, particularly for low-capacity individuals, emphasize the potential for cognitive plasticity in old-old age. The absence of transfer effects may also point to its limits.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study investigated the role of metacognition in event-based prospective memory. The aim of the study was to explore the relation between an item-level prediction (judgments of learning, JOL) and actual performance. The task and JOLs allowed a differentiation of the two components of prospective memory tasks (retrospective vs. prospective). Results revealed that individuals' predictions were (moderately) accurate for delayed JOLs but not for JOLs that had to be given immediately after task encoding. Moreover, data revealed an underconfidence-with-practice effect only for the retrospective component. For the prospective component, a substantial and general level of underconfidence in individuals' prediction-performance ratios was observed. The importance of metacognitive factors for prospective memory is discussed.
Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology 03/2011; 65(1):19-26. · 1.02 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Generally, older adults perform worse than younger adults in complex working memory span tasks. So far, it is unclear which processes mainly contribute to age-related differences in working memory span.
The aim of the present study was to investigate age effects and the roles of proactive and coactive interference in a recognition-based version of the operation span task.
Younger and older adults performed standard versions and distracter versions of the operation span task. At retrieval, participants had to recognize target words in word lists containing targets as well as proactive and/or coactive interference-related lures.
Results show that, overall, younger adults outperformed older adults in the recognition of target words. Furthermore, analyses of error types indicate that, while younger adults were only affected by simultaneously presented distracter words, older adults had difficulties with both proactive and coactive interference.
Results suggest that age effects in complex span tasks may not be mainly due to retrieval deficits in old age.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The present research explores the effects of contextualized material on age-related working memory performance. Two experiments
examining younger and older adults are reported. ANOVA results of the first experiment showed age effects in both a standard
operation span and a contextual task of parallel structure (air travel task). The second experiment also revealed a significant
age effect in a standard operation span task. However, there was no age difference in a contextual task providing additional
visual context (rail travel task), mainly due to older adults being unaffected by task type manipulation and younger adults
performing worse in the contextual than in the standard task. The present research suggests that contextual task material
may not necessarily lead to improved working memory performance in older adults. Several methodological and conceptual conclusions
for future research are discussed.
European Journal of Ageing 04/2009; 6(3):237-245. · 1.27 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study investigated the role of processing speed and working memory in prospective and retrospective memory (i.e., free recall) performance within old age. The aim was to examine age-related differences in both memory domains within the age range of 65 to 80 years. The sample consisted of 361 older adults from Wave 1 data of the Zurich Longitudinal Study on Cognitive Aging. Using structural equation modeling, prospective memory, free recall, working memory, and processing speed were identified as latent constructs. Age effects were found to be larger for prospective memory than for free recall. Furthermore, when controlling for individual differences in working memory and processing speed, unique age effects remained for prospective, but not retrospective, memory performance. Results indicate that, within old age, prospective memory represents a distinct memory construct that is partially independent of age-related individual differences in speed of processing, working memory, and retrospective memory.
Psychology and Aging 01/2008; 22(4):826-834. · 2.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Zurich Longitudinal Study on Cognitive Aging (ZULU) is an ongoing longitudinal study on the structure and development of cognition in old age. At the first assessment, the N = 364 participants had an average age of 73 years (age range: 65–80 years), and 46% were female. In total, a battery of 14 cognitive tests, including five consecutive verbal learning trials, were administered and adequately described by a measurement model of six first-order factors (processing speed, working memory, reasoning, learning, memory, and verbal knowledge) and one second-order factor of general cognitive ability. The cross-sectional age relations of the six cognitive abilities were, apart from processing speed and verbal knowledge, mediated by the general cognitive ability factor. From a conceptual perspective, these results imply that cognitive aging is not a completely uniform process driven by a single causal variable.
Swiss Journal of Psychology 01/2008; 67(3):177-195. · 0.57 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The present study was conducted to examine the inhibitory deficit theory on cognitive performance in old age. An experimental
manipulation was applied to investigate if the efficiency of inhibitory control directly affects age-related working memory
performance as measured by the operation span task. Forty-two older (M=67years, SD=5.12) and 42 younger adults (M=25years, SD=4.06) performed two versions of the operation span task that differed in the inhibitory demands placed on
working memory. Age effects were confirmed for both versions of the operation span task. Importantly, the age effect was qualified
by an age×inhibitory demands interaction indicating that age differences in the high inhibitory-demands condition were even
larger than in the standard condition. In conclusion, this supports the assumption that inhibitory deficits contribute to
age-related working memory performance.
European Journal of Ageing 11/2007; 4(4):213-217. · 1.27 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study examined how different verbal distractors influence (age-related) performance in the operation span working memory task. Forty-six older (M = 68 years, SD = 3.82) and 49 younger adults (M = 27 years, SD = 3.02) performed a conventional operation span task version and three versions with non-related, conceptually related, or phonologically related distracting words. Thus, the amount of inhibitory control demands varied across the task versions. Age effects were found for all versions. Furthermore, age effects in the versions with distracting words were even larger than in the conventional version, indicating that a decline in the ability to inhibit irrelevant verbal information can partly explain age effects in working memory performance.
Experimental Aging Research 08/2007; 33(2):163-175. · 1.11 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background/Aims: The aim of this study was to explore if prospective memory complaints reflect actual prospective memory performance in older adults. Methods: Three hundred and sixty-four older adults aged 65-80 years were investigated with regard to prospective memory complaints, prospective memory test performance, self-reported depressive symptoms, and self-reported memory capacity. Results: Separate analyses revealed that about half of the participants showed a significant relation between subjective and objective prospective memory. Conclusion: Older adults appear to be heterogeneous with regard to the association between objective and subjective prospective memory. For older adults with relatively few depressive symptoms and memory concerns, prospective memory complaints may serve as a valid criterion in the assessment of prospective memory ability.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In der neueren gerontologischen Kognitionsforschung haben sich wiederholt Alterseffekte bezüglich der Leistung in verschiedenen Arbeitsgedächtnisspannentests bestätigt. Bislang ist jedoch unklar, welche Rolle nicht-exekutive und exekutive Prozesse in diesen Alterseffekten spielen. Zur ersten Annäherung an diese Fragestellung wurden in der vorliegenden Studie 20 jüngere (M = 26 Jahre, SD = 7.14) und 21 ältere Erwachsene (M = 71 Jahre, SD = 5.87) in ihrer Leistung in zwei typischen Arbeitsgedächtnisspannentests („Zahlen nachsprechen rückwärts“, Operation Span Aufgabe) untersucht. Außerdem wurden als mögliche Prädiktoren für nicht-exekutive Prozesse die Kurzzeitgedächtnisspanne und die tonische Aufmerksamkeit sowie für exekutive Prozesse die inhibitorische Kontrollleistung erhoben. Die Ergebnisse zeigen signifikante Altersdifferenzen in beiden Arbeitsgedächtnisspannentests. Zusätzlich ergeben hierarchische Regressionsanalysen, dass im Test „Zahlen nachsprechen rückwärts“ nicht-exekutive Prozesse alleine, in der Operation Span Aufgabe dagegen eine Kombination aus nicht-exekutiven und exekutiven Prozessen die gefundene altersbezogene Varianz erklären können. Insgesamt deuten die Ergebnisse darauf hin, dass die beiden verwendeten Arbeitsgedächtnisspannentests schwerpunktmäßig mit unterschiedlichen kognitiven Prozessen zusammenhängen und somit in Diagnostik wie Grundlagenforschung nicht beliebig austauschbar angewandt werden sollten.
Zeitschrift für Gerontopsychologie & -psychiatrie 01/2003; 16:1-8.