Aging and skilled performance: Advances in Theory and Applications

By Neff Walker; Wendy A. Rogers et al. | Go to book overview

presentation of the List 2 word. In an initial study, Jennings and Jacoby found that older adults performed significantly worse than the younger adults when as few as 3 items intervened between first and second presentations--reflecting a time interval of less than 10 seconds! However, after extensive training involving positive feedback for correct responding and a gradual increase in the lag intervals, older people were able to perform at the level of young people with a lag of 28 intervening items. This result suggests that recollection (and perhaps other aspects of controlled processing) can be trained using this method of gradual shaping.


CONCLUSIONS

In summary, the present analysis of age differences in memory and related cognitive processes has some similarities and some dissimilarities to previous approaches. We agree with Hasher and Zacks ( 1979) that age differences are least with automatic processing and greatest with controlled processing. The present analysis is also in agreement with Craik's ( 1983, 1986) point that self-initiated processing is more difficult for the elderly. However, the present approach differs somewhat from the view expressed by Hasher and Zacks ( 1988) that an age-related loss in the efficiency of inhibitory processes underlies many cognitive deficits; we argue rather that an age-related reduction in the effectiveness of controlled processing is primary, resulting in a relative dominance of prepotent automatic responses. Crucially, the present set of suggestions relies on Jacoby ( 1991) procedure for separating automatic influences from conscious control, and this separation opens up new perspectives on such issues as the effects of contextual support, learning and maintenance of new habitual responses, and the learning and maintenance of controlled procedures such as recollection and executive intentions.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The research reported in this chapter was supported by grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to both authors. We are grateful for very useful comments on the chapter from Richard L. Marsh and Wendy A. Rogers.


REFERENCES

Albert M. S., & Kaplan E. ( 1980). "Organic implications of neupsychological deficits in the elderly". In L. W. Poon, J. Fozard, L. Cermak, D. Arenberg, & L. Thompson

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