Aging and repetition priming for targets and distracters in a working memory task

Daniel M. Caggiano, Yang Jiang, Raja Parasuraman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


A combined working memory/repetition priming task was administered to 13 young (mean age 23) and 13 elderly (mean age 69) adults. Each participant memorized a sample target face at the beginning of a trial and then determined whether each of 13 serially presented test faces matched the sample target. In each trial, both the target and one particular distracter face were repeated during the test phase. Within-trial repetition priming effects indicated the contribution of implicit memory to task performance. Response times decreased as items were tested repeatedly within a trial, but this decrement was greater for distracters than for targets. Young and older participants were equally accurate at identifying targets, but elderly were slightly less accurate for distracters. Elderly participants showed repetition priming effects for both targets and distracters, while the young showed such effects only for distracters. The results suggest that active maintenance in working memory, but not inhibition or rejection of distracters, may suppress implicit memory systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)552-573
Number of pages22
JournalAging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The present study was supported by NIH Grants AG19653 to RP and AG00986 to YJ. We would like to thank M. Harris for her help during data collection, and A. Lawson and two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments on the manuscript.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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