Healthy Aging and Visual Working Memory: The Effect of Mixing Feature and Conjunction Changes

Stephen Rhodes, Mario Parra Rodriguez, Nelson Cowan, Robert H. Logie

Abstract

It has been suggested that an age-related decline in the ability to bind and retain conjunctions of features may account for some of the pronounced decline of visual working memory across the adult life-span. So far the evidence for this suggestion has been mixed with some suggesting a specific deficit in binding to location, while the retention of surface feature conjunctions (e.g. color-shape) appears to remain largely intact. The present experiments follow up on the results of an earlier study finding that older adults were specifically poor at detecting conjunction changes when they were mixed with trials containing changes to individual features, relative to when these trials were blocked (Cowan et al., 2006, Dev. Psychol., 42, pp. 1089). Using stimuli defined by conjunctions of color and shape (Experiment 1), and color and location (Experiment 2) we find no evidence that older adults are less accurate at detecting binding changes when trial types are mixed. Further, analysis of estimates of discriminability provides substantial-to-strong evidence against this suggestion. We discuss these findings in relation to previous studies addressing the same question and suggest that much of the evidence for specific age-related VWM binding deficits is not as strong as it first appears.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology and Aging
StateAccepted/In press - 21 Dec 2016

Fingerprint

Short-Term Memory
Color
experiment
trial
adult
deficit
memory
location
age
Retention (Psychology)
life-span
stimulus
aging
individual
effect
analysis

Keywords

  • Visual Working Memory
  • Change Detection
  • Cognitive Aging
  • Feature Binding

Cite this

Rhodes, Stephen; Parra Rodriguez, Mario; Cowan, Nelson; Logie, Robert H. / Healthy Aging and Visual Working Memory: The Effect of Mixing Feature and Conjunction Changes.

In: Psychology and Aging, 21.12.2016.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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title = "Healthy Aging and Visual Working Memory: The Effect of Mixing Feature and Conjunction Changes",
keywords = "Visual Working Memory, Change Detection, Cognitive Aging, Feature Binding",
author = "Stephen Rhodes and {Parra Rodriguez}, Mario and Nelson Cowan and Logie, {Robert H.}",
year = "2016",
month = "12",
journal = "Psychology and Aging",
issn = "0882-7974",
publisher = "American Psychological Association Inc.",

}

Healthy Aging and Visual Working Memory: The Effect of Mixing Feature and Conjunction Changes. / Rhodes, Stephen; Parra Rodriguez, Mario; Cowan, Nelson; Logie, Robert H.

In: Psychology and Aging, 21.12.2016.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Healthy Aging and Visual Working Memory: The Effect of Mixing Feature and Conjunction Changes

AU - Rhodes,Stephen

AU - Parra Rodriguez,Mario

AU - Cowan,Nelson

AU - Logie,Robert H.

PY - 2016/12/21

Y1 - 2016/12/21

N2 - It has been suggested that an age-related decline in the ability to bind and retain conjunctions of features may account for some of the pronounced decline of visual working memory across the adult life-span. So far the evidence for this suggestion has been mixed with some suggesting a specific deficit in binding to location, while the retention of surface feature conjunctions (e.g. color-shape) appears to remain largely intact. The present experiments follow up on the results of an earlier study finding that older adults were specifically poor at detecting conjunction changes when they were mixed with trials containing changes to individual features, relative to when these trials were blocked (Cowan et al., 2006, Dev. Psychol., 42, pp. 1089). Using stimuli defined by conjunctions of color and shape (Experiment 1), and color and location (Experiment 2) we find no evidence that older adults are less accurate at detecting binding changes when trial types are mixed. Further, analysis of estimates of discriminability provides substantial-to-strong evidence against this suggestion. We discuss these findings in relation to previous studies addressing the same question and suggest that much of the evidence for specific age-related VWM binding deficits is not as strong as it first appears.

AB - It has been suggested that an age-related decline in the ability to bind and retain conjunctions of features may account for some of the pronounced decline of visual working memory across the adult life-span. So far the evidence for this suggestion has been mixed with some suggesting a specific deficit in binding to location, while the retention of surface feature conjunctions (e.g. color-shape) appears to remain largely intact. The present experiments follow up on the results of an earlier study finding that older adults were specifically poor at detecting conjunction changes when they were mixed with trials containing changes to individual features, relative to when these trials were blocked (Cowan et al., 2006, Dev. Psychol., 42, pp. 1089). Using stimuli defined by conjunctions of color and shape (Experiment 1), and color and location (Experiment 2) we find no evidence that older adults are less accurate at detecting binding changes when trial types are mixed. Further, analysis of estimates of discriminability provides substantial-to-strong evidence against this suggestion. We discuss these findings in relation to previous studies addressing the same question and suggest that much of the evidence for specific age-related VWM binding deficits is not as strong as it first appears.

KW - Visual Working Memory

KW - Change Detection

KW - Cognitive Aging

KW - Feature Binding

M3 - Article

JO - Psychology and Aging

T2 - Psychology and Aging

JF - Psychology and Aging

SN - 0882-7974

ER -