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The Effects of Aging on Object Representation in Visual Working Memory


One’s ability to remember visual material such as objects, faces, and spatial locations over a short period of time declines with age. The proposed research will examine whether these deficits are explained by a reduction in visual working memory (VWM) capacity, or an impairment in one’s ability to maintain, or ‘bind’ appropriate associations among pieces of related information. In this project successful binding is operationally defined as the proper recall or recognition of objects that are defined by the conjunction of multiple visual features. While tests of long-term memory have demonstrated that, despite preserved memory for isolated features, older adults have more difficulty remembering conjunctions of features, no research has yet investigated analogous age related binding deficits in VWM. This is a critical oversight because, given the current state of the science, it is unknown whether these deficits are specific to the long-term memory system, or if they originate in VWM. The project interweaves three strands of research that each investigate whether older adults have more difficulty creating, maintaining, and updating bound multi-feature object representations than younger adults. This theoretical program of enquiry will provide insight into the cognitive architecture of VWM and how this system changes with age, and its outcomes will have wide ranging multi-disciplinary applications in applied theory and intervention techniques that may reduce the adverse consequences of aging on memory.

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Participation ended

Old college, south bridge
EH8 9YL Edinburgh
United Kingdom

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Scotland Eastern Scotland Edinburgh
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Principal investigator
James Robert Brockmole (Dr.)
Administrative Contact
Noble Angela (Ms.)
EU contribution
No data

Beneficiaries (1)