Memory Declines With Age

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The human brain functions, such as sight, hearing and memory naturally decline with age. Memory has always been a highly researched topic to do with its decline with age. Memory is defined as “the faculty by which the mind stores and remembers information”. (Macquarie 2017)

Memory updating is frequently used in everyday life and learning. Updating is a change in memory content and lowering the activation of information no longer needed.

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They are many different types of memory such as; long-term, short-term, explicit, implicit ect… For this investigation was primary focused on short term memory and whether age affects recall. The main goal of this research was to discover the difference in working memory in adults aged from 55 to 75 years and over.

Research Question:

Does working memory updating decline with age?


In 2004 Rossana De Beni and Paola Palladino ran an experiment to test the difference in memory recall between three age groups of people; young-old (55 – 65 years), old (66 – 76 years) and old-old (more than 75 years old). 30 being men and 30 women, all participants were living independently. Participants were tested individually with 20 lists, each comprising of 10 items. 10 of the lists were nouns, five with familiar animal nouns and the other five with familiar object nouns. 10 lists were two-digit numbers.

When scoring this test, it was broken into two categories; total number of correct recalls and total number of intrusions. It was found that the oldest adults recalled a lower number of target items and with many errors. Shown with the following results; the 55 – 65 year old’s average with 51.25 correct answers and only 6.20 wrong. The average of the 65 – 75 group had 47.80 correct and 7.00 wrong. But when it came to the 75 and over group 41.30 on average were answers with 10.35 intrusion errors.

A limitation of this evidence is they didn’t have a younger test group, for example a 45 – 55 group so there would be more of a difference.


The research found with the increasing age, memory performances decreased. The older the group tested the worse they did. Rossana De Beni and Paola Palladino ran this experiment to examine whether working memory updating decreases with age. Which was proven by the results.


To determine the quality of the evidence, the appropriateness of the method used, the rigour employed when controlling the variables.

Firstly, the methodology used by the researchers to measure working memory updating were comprise 20 lists, 10 with familiar nouns and 10 with two-digit numbers. Then participants were tested individually with a warm up trial before hand where they were allowed to remember any words. The actual lists were read out and asking participants to remember the three smallest items from each.


  1. Macquarie (2017)
  2. Rossana De Beni and Paola Palladino (2004)


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