Age, working memory, and the strategic control of attention at encoding
Hayes, Melissa Gail
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The current study investigated the effects of aging on the strategic control of attention at encoding and the extent to which this relationship was mediated by working memory capacity. The value-directed remembering task used by Castel et al. (2009) was modified to include an inhibitory task demand (i.e., value-directed forgetting), and age differences were predicted due to declines in the efficiency of inhibitory mechanisms. Results confirmed this prediction, as older adults were less efficient in maximizing their selectivity scores upon the inclusion of task interference, and working memory was found to be supportive of performance. Results additionally support an age-related decline in the directed forgetting effect, such that older adults recalled and recognized fewer TBR items and more TBF items, relative to younger adults. Taken together, results suggest an age-related decline in the ability to inhibit goal-irrelevant information, thereby limiting working memory resources available for greater processing of goal-relevant information.