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Spring-cleaning the mind?
Date:4/19/2011

This release is available in French.

Montreal April 19, 2011 Lapses in memory occur more frequently with age, yet the reasons for this increasing forgetfulness have not always been clear. According to new research from Concordia University, older individuals have reduced learning and memory because their minds tend to be cluttered with irrelevant information when performing tasks. Published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, these findings offer new insights into why ageing is associated with a decline in memory and may lead to practical solutions.

"The first step of our study was to test the working memory of a younger and older population and compare the results," says Mervin Blair, first author and a PhD student in Concordia's Department of Psychology and a member at the Centre for Research in Human Development. "In our study, working memory refers to the ability of both retaining and processing information."

Some 60 participants took part in the study: half were an average of 23 years old, while the other half was about 67 years old. Each participant was asked to perform a working memory task, which included recalling and processing different pieces of information.

"Overall, we showed that our older participants had reduced working memory compared to our younger participants," says Blair. "Younger adults were better than the older adults at recalling and processing information."

"Our study was novel because we looked at how the ability to recall and process information at the same time changes as people get older," adds Karen Li, senior author and a professor in Concordia's Department of Psychology and a member of the Centre for Research in Human Development.

Older people don't purge irrelevant info

The next step was to determine if there was a timeframe when the ability
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Contact: Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins
s-j.desjardins@concordia.ca
514-848-2424 x5068
Concordia University
Source:Eurekalert

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