Aging and Memory: Attentional Resources and Cognitive Control
Craik, Fergus I. M.
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In this talk I will examine the proposition that age-related memory problems are largely attributable to declines in attentional resources and executive control, and will illustrate the arguments with experimental results from my lab. The questions discussed will include the notions that division of attention in young adults mimics the effects of aging on memory, that such effects are largely at encoding, and that divided attention has surprisingly little effect on retrieval despite the fact that retrieval processes are resource-demanding, especially in older adults. Other topics will consider age differences in working memory and how such differences may vary with task demands; also, age-related problems with self-initiation and with retrieval of highly specific information. Final questions include to what extent are retrieval difficulties in older adults reflective of problems of executive control, how do reductions in encoding efficiency affect later implicit and explicit retrieval, and are ‘attentional resources’ and ‘cognitive control’ simply two labels for the same concept?