Decomposing Adult Age Differences in Working Memory

Timothy A. Salthouse, Renee L. Babcock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1041 Scopus citations


Two studies, involving a total of 460 adults between 18 and 87 years of age, were conducted to determine which of several hypothesized processing components was most responsible for age-related declines in working memory functioning. Significant negative correlations between age and measures of working memory (i.e., from -.39 to -.52) were found in both studies, and these relations were substantially attenuated by partialing measures hypothesized to reflect storage capacity, processing efficiency, coordination effectiveness, and simple comparison speed. Because the greatest attenuation of the age relations occurred with measures of simple processing speed, it was suggested that many of the age differences in working memory may be mediated by age-related reductions in the speed of executing elementary operations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)763-776
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1991
Externally publishedYes


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