ERIC Number: ED287149
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987-Apr
Cognitive Effort in Modality Retrieval by Young and Older Adults.
Mellinger, Jeanne C.; And Others
Recent studies of contextual attributes thought to be automatic have reported deficits among the elderly, raising the question of whether automatic memory processing does require some effortful attention and if so, whether such effort is needed during encoding, storage, or retrieval. This study used a secondary task methodology to examine these issues. Older (N=32) and younger (N=32) adults participated in the four-part testing procedure which involved a primary task of word recall, a secondary task of presentation modality recall, and response to a light signal. Four measures of performance were obtained: number of words recalled, proportion of correct modality identification, an estimate of the amount of modality clustering during word recall, and reaction time to light signals. The results showed that modality information, given word recall, was significantly lower for older adults than for younger ones, and also that word recall was more cognitively effortful for older subjects. Results also indicated that adding a modality identification task to word recall did not increase cognitive effort for either age group. The findings revealed no evidence that retrieval of modality information is cognitively effortful, yet small age decrements occurred. This poses a challenge for capacity theories of elderly memory. (NB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association (Arlington, VA, April 9-12, 1987).