Working memory binding and episodic memory formation in aging, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer's dementia
SourceNeuropsychology, Development, and Cognition. Section A, Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 37, 5, (2015), pp. 538-548
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC NRP
Neuropsychology, Development, and Cognition. Section A, Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology
SubjectDI-BCB_DCC_Theme 3: Plasticity and Memory; Neuropsychology and rehabilitation psychology; Radboudumc 1: Alzheimer`s disease DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience; Neuro- en revalidatiepsychologie
INTRODUCTION: Recent studies indicate that in both normal and pathological aging working memory (WM) performance deteriorates, especially when associations have to be maintained. However, most studies typically do not assess the relationship between WM and episodic memory formation. In the present study, we examined WM and episodic memory formation in normal aging and in patients with early Alzheimer's disease (mild cognitive impairment, MCI; and Alzheimer's dementia, AD). METHOD: In the first study, 26 young adults (mean age 29.6 years) were compared to 18 middle-aged adults (mean age 52.2 years) and 25 older adults (mean age 72.8 years). We used an associative delayed-match-to-sample WM task, which requires participants to maintain two pairs of faces and houses presented on a computer screen for short (3 s) or long (6 s) maintenance intervals. After the WM task, an unexpected subsequent associative memory task was administered (two-alternative forced choice). In the second study, 27 patients with AD and 19 patients with MCI were compared to 25 older controls, using the same paradigm as that in Experiment 1. RESULTS: Older adults performed worse than both middle-aged and young adults. No effect of delay was observed in the healthy adults, and pairs that were processed during long maintenance intervals were not better remembered in the subsequent memory task. In the MCI and AD patients, longer maintenance intervals hampered the task performance. Also, both patient groups performed significantly worse than controls on the episodic memory task as well as the associative WM task. CONCLUSIONS: Aging and AD present with a decline in WM binding, a finding that extends similar results in episodic memory. Longer delays in the WM task did not affect episodic memory formation. We conclude that WM deficits are found when WM capacity is exceeded, which may occur during associative processing.
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