Medicine >> Memory Research

Effects of Age on Short Term Memory Loss Due to Proactive Interference

by Alisha Berkauzer


Submitted : Fall 2011

This project focused on how proactive interference affects the short-term memory of people based on their age. The goal was to find the prime age for learning information and storing it in one's memory. Six people from ages fifteen to forty were tested individually, using a set color pattern, in order to see how well each individual could remember the different color patterns as difficulty of the pattern increased. Then each person was assigned a number, or “Pattern Difficulty Level” ranging from one to nine. The Pattern Difficulty Level represents the highest combination of colors the person could remember without any error in repeating the pattern. From this information, the Pattern Difficulty Level (y) and the individual's age (x) was plotted on a graph. Using polynomial regression a “fitted” curve (f(x)) was found which showed that as age increased, the individual's performance in memorizing the more difficult patterns decreased. By taking the first derivative of the fitted curve, f1(x) was set to zero to find the age at which memory performance peaked. Using this method it was found that based on these results, the peak age for remembering old information when new information is presented is twenty-four.

Although the results are not a perfect-match to other studies which show that the peak age for memorization is twenty-two, this study does comply with the general regression of other studies showing that as age increases, memory performance decreases. With some improvements, it is believed that this study would be in compliance with other well-known studies such as those by Salthouse Cognitive Aging Lab at the University of Virginia.



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Advisors :
Arcadii Grinshpan, Mathematics and Statistics
Jonathan Burns, Mathematics and Statistics
Andrei Chugunov, Fortis College: Medical Sciences
Suggested By :
Andrei Chugunov