Journals of gerontology vol:48 issue:4 pages:P157-P171
A meta-analytic literature review on adult age differences in speed of search in short-term memory (12 studies), memory span (40 studies), list recall (68 studies), paired-associate recall (21 studies), and prose recall (39 studies) is presented. Results show that age differences are quite large (depending on the task, elderly people can be situated between the 3rd and the 38th percentile of the adult age memory performance distribution) and quasi-omnipresent, even under conditions of cued recall or semantic task orientation. Evidence for age sensitivity is found for the process of categorization of lists, but not for semantic processing, association strategies, imagery, non for extracting main points from prose material. The elderly population benefits more than the young from the possibility of reviewing lists or texts. Differences between young adults and old-old adults are larger than between young adults and the young-old for speed of search in short-term memory and prose recall only. In two out of the five tasks, lower education is reliably associated with larger age differences.