Reconciling Two Computational Models of Working Memory in Aging

Topics in Cognitive Science 8 (1):264-278 (2016)
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It is well known that working memory performance changes with age. Two recent computational models of working memory, TBRS* and SOB-CS, developed from young adults WM performances are opposed regarding the postulated causes of forgetting, namely time-based decay and interference for TBRS* and SOB-CS, respectively. In the present study, these models are applied on a set of complex span data produced by young and older adults. As expected, these models are unable to account for the older adult data. An investigation on the effect of the main parameters of these models showed that the poorer performance of older adults does not come from a weaker encoding of item but rather from difficulties during the free time that immediately follows each distractor, as well as from a higher level of confusion between items. These results are discussed with respect to the current theories of working memory and aging



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