Age-Related Differences in the Reliance on Executive Control in Working Memory : Role of Task Demand


  • Isingrini Michel
  • Angel Lucie
  • Fay Séverine
  • Taconnat Laurence
  • Lemaire Patrick
  • Bouazzaoui Badiâa


  • Memory
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Cognition
  • Age groups
  • Elderly
  • Working memory
  • Young adults
  • Aging

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We examined the hypothesis that age-related differences in the reliance on executive control may be better explained by variations of task demand than by a mechanism specifically linked to aging. To this end, we compared the relationship between the performance of young and older adults on two executive functioning tests and an updating working-memory task with different load levels. The results revealed a significant interaction between age, task demand, and individual executive capacities, indicating that executive resources were only involved at lower loads in older adults, and only at higher loads in young adults. Overall, the results are not consistent with the proposition that cognition places greater demand on executive control in older adults. However, they support the view that how much young and older adults rely on executive control to accomplish cognitive tasks depends on task demand. Finally, interestingly these results are consistent with the CRUNCH model accounting for age-related differences in brain activations.

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