The Effects of Display Layout on Keeping Track of Visual-Spatial Information
Mark C. Detweiler Stephen M. Hess Pennsylvania State University
R. Darin Ellis Wayne State University
Broadly conceived, working memory is associated with the cognitive structures and processes involved in temporarily storing and manipulating information as different types of cognitive tasks are performed (see Baddeley, 1986; Baddeley & Hitch, 1994; Schneider & Detweiler, 1987). Since the 1980s considerable progress has been made at both conceptualizing the role of working memory in development and learning and in investigating numerous age-related differences that emerge across a wide range of tasks (see, e.g., Salthouse, 1990, 1994). At one end of the developmental continuum, working-memory capacity has been reported to increase with age (e.g., Case, Kurland, & Goldberg, 1982; Chi, 1976, 1978), whereas, at the other end, working- memory capacity and/or efficiency has been reported to decrease with age (e.g., Gick, Craik, & Morris, 1988; Morris, Gick, & Craik, 1988; Salthouse, 1990; Salthouse & Babcock, 1991).
The majority of measures used to assess age differences in working memory, for example, measures of spans of running memory, reading, listening, and computation, have revealed that younger adults tend to perform better on these tasks than older adults ( Dobbs & Rule, 1989; Salthouse, 1990). Despite the number of methodologies for cataloging age-related differences, there is still considerable question about what factors are responsible for them. For example, cases have been made for decreasing storage capacity (e.g., Inman & Parkinson, 1983), declining processing resources or processing efficiency ( Gick et al., 1988; Morris et al., 1988), and reduced availability or efficiency of control processes