Monday, April 25, 2011

Multitasking compromises short term memory in seniors.

Sigh... A careful noting "by Clapp et al. of the "deficient ability to dynamically switch between functional brain networks" that I so clearly note in my 69 year old brain as I sit here in front of my new toy, an Apple 27" cinema display monitor I'm using to do four simultaneous tasks (and can't remember activities a few steps back when I switch to a different window) ..... Their basic observation is that people between the ages of 60 and 80 have significantly more trouble remembering tasks after experiencing a brief interruption than do people in their 20s and 30s.
Multitasking negatively influences the retention of information over brief periods of time. This impact of interference on working memory is exacerbated with normal aging. We used functional MRI to investigate the neural basis by which an interruption is more disruptive to working memory performance in older individuals. Younger and older adults engaged in delayed recognition tasks both with and without interruption by a secondary task. Behavioral analysis revealed that working memory performance was more impaired by interruptions in older compared with younger adults. Functional connectivity analyses showed that when interrupted, older adults disengaged from a memory maintenance network and reallocated attentional resources toward the interrupting stimulus in a manner consistent with younger adults. However, unlike younger individuals, older adults failed to both disengage from the interruption and reestablish functional connections associated with the disrupted memory network. These results suggest that multitasking leads to more significant working memory disruption in older adults because of an interruption recovery failure, manifest as a deficient ability to dynamically switch between functional brain networks.

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