The Effects of Ageing on Memory and Thinking
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The main aim of the present study is to examine the effects of ageing on memory and thinking by examining verbal fluency performance. More specifically looking at the differences between older and younger people, to ascertain where the disparities lie. The main unique point of this study is to determine the differences in retrieval times and the time to switch between clusters of words. A Semantic Fluency task was administered to N = 63 normal participants. In this task participants were asked to write as many exemplars of the category “animals” as they could in 2 minutes. The procedure for the main components of the task was based on the tests cited by Abrahams, Leigh, Harvey, Vythelingum, Grise and Goldstein (2000). However clustering and switching was examined using Troyer, Moscovitch, and Winocurs’ (1997) older healthy adult’s conceptual model. The results showed a significant difference between the age groups for (1) number of exemplars generated (2) number of exemplars produced between 30 seconds timeframes and (3) time to switch between clusters. Older people produced fewer words than younger people but were the quickest group when it came to switching between clusters. In conclusion, this study found comparable results in terms of the total number of words generated by differing age groups as found in much of the previous literature. But an opposite age effect, was found for “time to switch” to that found by Troyer et al. (1997). This new finding points to the fact that although time to switch is an executive measure it was not affected by ageing in the current study. This may be due to the higher IQ of the older group, which could suggest that their more proficient verbal ability may have helped their semantic search for animal exemplars.