Individual Difference and Contextual Variables Influence Spatial Memory in Younger and Older Adults

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Abstract

This study examined the influence of individual difference and contextual variables on the magnitude of age differences in memory for spatial location. Younger adults and 2 samples of older adults that differed in educational attainment, verbal intelligence, and working memory ability were compared. Ss studied and later recreated an arrangement of small objects that were placed on a plain map or a visually distinctive model. The objects were either unrelated or categorically related items. The results indicated that distinctive context enhanced spatial memory, and the magnitude of the benefit was generally comparable across age groups and stimulus sets. Hierarchical regression analyses confirmed that working memory resources accounted for a sizable proportion of age-related variance in memory for spatial location. The implications of these results for current views on age-related differences in memory for spatial location are discussed.

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