Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Research bytes: Spatial and verbal working memory are different constructs

Hale, S., Rose, N. S., Myerson, J., Strube, M. J., Sommers, M., TyeMurray, N., & Spehar, B. (2011). The Structure of Working Memory Abilities Across the Adult Life Span. Psychology and Aging, 26(1), 92-110.

(italics emphasis added by blogmaster)

The present study addresses three questions regarding age differences in working memory: (1) whether performance on complex span tasks decreases as a function of age at a faster rate than performance on simple span tasks; (2) whether spatial working memory decreases at a faster rate than verbal working memory; and (3) whether the structure of working memory abilities is different for different age groups. Adults, ages 20–89 (n = 388), performed three simple and three complex verbal span tasks and three simple and three complex spatial memory tasks. Performance on the spatial tasks decreased at faster rates as a function of age than performance on the verbal tasks, but within each domain, performance on complex and simple span tasks decreased at the same rates. Confirmatory factor analyses revealed that domain-differentiated models yielded better fits than models involving domain-general constructs, providing further evidence of the need to distinguish verbal and spatial working memory abilities. Regardless of which domain-differentiated model was examined, and despite the faster rates of decrease in the spatial domain, age group comparisons revealed that the factor structure of working memory abilities was highly similar in younger and older adults and showed no evidence of age-related dedifferentiation.

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