If you are at the Psychonomics meeting in Boston in November, stop by the Cognitive Aging session (Back Bay C & D, Saturday Morning, 8:00-10:00). Dr. Minda will be giving a talk entitled “Category Learning in Older Adulthood: The Role of Age and Executive Functioning” based on some of Rachel Rabi’s doctoral work.
We asked older and younger adults to learn category sets of varying rule complexity. Older adults performed comparable to younger adults when learning single-dimensional rule-based categories, but struggled greatly with learning complex rule-based categories, which taxed their working memory resources. A second experiment examined whether complex rule-based categorization performance could be improved in older adults by reducing task demands. Following familiarization with the category set, older adults demonstrated marked improvements in performance. The reduction of the working memory demands allowed the older adults to formulate the complex rule and to perform comparably to younger adults. Our findings suggest that age-related declines in executive functioning may be associated with difficulty learning more complex rule-based categories.
Slides from the talk are available HERE