The Role of Working Memory in Age Differences in Reasoning
Since the early part of the century there has been empirical evidence of adult age differences in reasoning (Yerkes, 1921). There is now a rich seam of evidence that increasing age results in poorer performance on some cognitive tasks (those which are relatively effortful, novel, and complex), but not others (those which are relatively automatic, practised, and simple). However, controversy still rages as to the cause of such age deficits. Recent parsimonious theories promote age declines in “workingmemory capacity” to explain the poorer performance of older adults on reasoning tasks. In this chapter we will evaluate such theories, by outlining the age differences in working memory and in reasoning, evaluating methodologies used to link the two concepts, and then reviewing the empirical evidence that working memory can explain age differences in reasoning.