Working memory for multifeature visuospatial stimuli in normal aging

Christina Read

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

[Truncated] The aim of the present series of studies was to identify barriers to working memory for multifeature visuospatial stimuli in normal aging. Memory for multifeature stimuli requires retention of multiple visuospatial features, as well as the relationships between features within stimuli, known as memory binding. In Experiment 1, younger people (17-25 years) and older people (66-95 years) completed a modification of Wheeler and Treisman’s (2002) visual change detection task, to determine the effects of normal aging on memory binding, and memory for multiple features ... Results indicated that older people did not have a memory binding decrement compared to younger people. Further, younger people performed more accurately when cued to attend to a specific feature, while older people’s performance did not improve with cueing ... Experiment 2 employed the binding condition and the ‘either’ condition, with stimuli presented either sequentially or simultaneously. Results were consistent with Experiment 1, with no age-related binding decrement, regardless of the method of stimulus presentation. In Experiment 1, older people demonstrated a shape memory decrement compared to younger people. Experiments 3A and 3B were performed to determine whether this result did represent a memory decrement per se, or whether it was a consequence of a shape perception decrement ... Compared to younger people, older people demonstrated a similar performance decrement across shape perception and memory tasks, indicating that their performance was mediated by an underlying perceptual decrement. Experiment 4 was conducted to determine if older people had difficulty selectively attending to a feature across multifeature stimuli, as suggested by their failure to benefit from cueing in Experiment 1 ... Older people had a greater performance decrement when the irrelevant feature was incompatible with the correct response, compared to younger people, consistent with a selective attention decrement. Experiment 5B adapted the design of Experiment 4 to both a perception task and a working memory task, while Experiment 5A identified appropriate stimulus features to use in Experiment 5B ... Overall, older people do not have particular difficulty remembering multiple visuospatial features, or binding these features within working memory. Rather, older people’s performance was marked by difficulty selectively attending to a specified feature across multifeature stimuli.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2005

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