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Title: Age-differences in working-memory as a function of habituation: An EEG study of "proactive interference" resolution in working-memory performance during a visual recognition task
Authors: Correia, João Miguel Mendonça
Issue Date: 2014-05-16
Keywords: Cognitive aging
Visual recognition tasks
Working memory
Keywords (translated): Γνωστική γήρανση
Abstract: As life expectancy increases in modern societies, a greater importance has recently started to be given to cognitive aging. Alzheimer's disease (AD) affects the memory capability of individuals at advanced ages, independently of their general physical health. However, AD is suggested to have an undetectable development many years prior the first clear behavioral symptoms. This silent presence of AD may allow scientists to detect its initial stages, at which a combination of prevention treatments, such as medication and cognitive training, can be more effective. This study extends a line of research that aims to identify possible 'silent' biomarkers of AD using working memory performance and electrophysiological recordings (EEG) in healthy adults. Working memory (aka., short-term memory) is a memory sub-type used in everyday life that allows us to execute tasks in short periods of time. Given the significant parallels of working memory with other forms of long-term memory and its clear facility to be employed in experimental settings of short duration, working memory is a suitable candidate to identify early biomarkers of memory deficits ingeneral. In this study we assessed the cognitive performance and the electrophysiological response - via EEG signals - in a visual working memory recognition task that included the interference of past memories over the present ones. This 'proactive interference' effect is evaluated has a possible biomarker candidate for AD. Our findings reveal that subjects take longer reaction times in the recognition of visual items in the proactive interference condition in comparison to no interference. Additionally, we report an early (170-180 ms) and a later (430-450 ms) EEG components (ERP) that underlies the neural processing responsible for the resolution of this working memory interference. These two time intervals are interpreted as revealing the resolution of proactive interference at two difference stages of visual information processing ('letters'): the phonological (sub-lexical) and semantic (lexical) levels respectively.
Abstract (translated): --
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