Cluttered memory halts older people from learning new things

April 20th, 2011 - 1:36 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, April 20 (ANI): A new research from Concordia University has suggested that older individuals have reduced learning and memory because their minds tend to be cluttered with irrelevant information when performing tasks.

These findings offer new insights into why ageing is associated with a decline in memory and may lead to practical solutions.

Some 60 participants took part in the study: half were an average of 23 years old, while the other half was about 67 years old. Each participant was asked to perform a working memory task, which included recalling and processing different pieces of information.

Analyses were conducted to determine the relationship between the ability to clear irrelevant information and working memory ability.

“Poor inhibition predicted a decline in the recall component of working memory and it also predicted decline in the processing component of working memory,” said Mervin Blair, first author and a PhD student in Concordia’s Department of Psychology and a member at the Centre for Research in Human Development.

“Basically, older adults are less able to keep irrelevant information out of their consciousness, which then impacts on other mental abilities,” added Blair.

For those who are having trouble remembering, Blair suggested that focusing and reducing mental clutter might help.

“Reduce clutter, if you don’t, you may not get anything done,” he added.

The study has been published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. (ANI)

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