Vol. 1 nº 3 - Jul/Aug/Set de 2007
Original Article Páginas: 276 a 281

The influence of schooling on working memory performance in elderly individuals without cognitive decline

Authors Juliana Nery de Souza-Talarico1, Paulo Caramelli2, Ricardo Nitrini3, Eliane Corrêa Chaves4


keywords: aging, education, working memory.

Over recent decades, research on cognition has been developed rapidly toward better understanding the cognitive changes that usually occur during normal aging. There is evidence that elderly individuals have worse working memory performance than young adults. However, the effect of education on this cognitive function remains unclear. Objectives: To analyze the performance of healthy elderly subjects on working memory tasks and to verify the influence of educational level on this performance. Methods: Forty elderly individuals without cognitive impairment and fully independent, were randomly chosen from a group of subjects participating in cultural activities at the university campus. The Digit Span Forward (DSF) test was used to evaluate attention performance. The working memory performance was assessed by the Digit Span Backward (DSB) and the difference between DSF and DSB. The data were statistically analyzed using the Spearman's correlation coefficient to verify the correlation between the Digit Span (DS) scores and the variables age and schooling, while the Multiple Linear Regression Model was used to verify the effect of these variables on the DS scores. Results: A significant positive correlation (r=0.41, p<0.01) as well as a significant association (b=0.506; p=0.001; CI 95%= 0.064/0.237) were found between years of schooling and DSB scores. It was not observed statistical correlation (r= -0.08, p=0.64) or association (b=0.41; p=0.775; CI 95%= -0.049/0.065) between age and DSB scores. Conclusion: In this study, higher levels of schooling were associated with better working memory performance in cognitively healthy elders.


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