Passive storage and active manipulation in visuo-spatial working memory: Further evidence from the study of age differences

Tomaso Vecchi, Cesare Cornoldi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Recent theoretical accounts of working memory proposed a distinction between passive storage and active processing of visuo-spatial information. These hypotheses are based on empirical evidence showing that individual differences in visuo-spatial abilities are frequently modulated by this variable. However, results from age differences studies are not clear, and this research was designed to specifically investigate the level of competence of elderly people in tasks measuring visuo-spatial working memory and, in particular, passive and active components of the system. Three groups of participants (mean ages were approximately 22, 66, and 76) were tested in eight cognitive tasks tapping passive storage and active manipulation in various aspects of visuo-spatial and verbal processing. Results showed that elderly people are selectively impaired in active tasks, and these tasks were also more sensitive in detecting differences within the older group. These data highlight the need for theoretical models of working memory that take into account this distinction while defining the architecture of the system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-406
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Cognitive Psychology
Volume11
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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