ERIC Number: ED195916
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1980-Sep
Reference Count: 0
The Effect of Contextual Organization on Spatial Memory of Middle Aged and Older Adults.
Waddell, Kathryn J.; Rogoff, Barbara
Although age-related memory differences in adulthood occur in a variety of memory tasks, most of these tasks represent uncommon memory demands. An investigation of everyday memory demands explored the effect of contextual organization on memory performance of middle aged (N=20) and older (N=20) women. Tasks involved reconstruction of spatial arrays, with replacement of objects in either a contextually organized panorama or a noncontextually organized bank of cubicles. Performance of the middle aged subjects did not differ between the two tasks. Older subjects performed as well as middle aged subjects in the contextually organized panorama reconstruction, but exhibited a marked deficit in reconstruction of the noncontextually organized version. The pattern of performance and strategy use supports the conclusion that in a task which allows the use of existing contextual organization as a memory aid, age differences in memory performance disappear. Age differences in adult memory performance may be limited to tasks which remove previously learned relationships between items, requiring subjects to invent an organizational structure to facilitate recall. Such tasks are probably unrepresentative of the memory problems met in everyday life, especially by older adults. (Author)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (88th, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, September 1-5, 1980).