Retrospective Cues Based on Object Features Improve Visual Working Memory Performance in Older Adults
Journal: Aging, Neuropsychology, & Cognition
Authors: Amanda L. Gilchrist, Audrey Duarte, & Paul Verhaeghen
Abstract: Research with younger adults has shown that retrospective cues can be used to orient top-down attention toward relevant items in working memory. We examined whether older adults could take advantage of these cues to improve memory performance. Younger and older adults were presented with visual arrays of five colored shapes; during maintenance, participants were either presented with an informative cue based on an object feature (here, object shape or color) that would be probed, or with an uninformative, neutral cue. Although older adults were less accurate overall, both age groups benefited from the presentation of an informative, feature-based cue relative to a neutral cue. Surprisingly, we also observed differences in the effectiveness of shape versus color cues and their effects upon post-cue memory load. These results suggest that older adults can use top-down attention to remove irrelevant items from visual working memory, provided that task-relevant features function as cues.
Keywords*: aging, retrospective cueing, visual working memory, attention, object features