Aging, working memory capacity and the proactive control of recollection: An event-related potential study

Jessica Keating, Caitlin Affleck-Brodie, Ronny Wiegand, Alexa M Morcom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The present study investigated the role of working memory capacity (WMC) in the control of recollection in young and older adults. We used electroencephalographic event-related potentials (ERPs) to examine the effects of age and of individual differences in WMC on the ability to prioritize recollection according to current goals. Targets in a recognition exclusion task were words encoded using two alternative decisions. The left parietal ERP old/new effect was used as an electrophysiological index of recollection, and the selectivity of recollection measured in terms of the difference in its magnitude according to whether recognized items were targets or non-targets. Young adults with higher WMC showed greater recollection selectivity than those with lower WMC, while older adults showed nonselective recollection which did not vary with WMC. The data suggest that aging impairs the ability to engage cognitive control effectively to prioritize what will be recollected.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0180367
Pages (from-to)1-24
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume12
Issue number7
Early online date20 Jul 2017
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Jul 2017

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