The present research examined age-related differences in the use of structural aspects of the visual environment to facilitate the processing of task-relevant stimuli. More specifically, our study considered age-related differences in the use of color and proximity to facilitate the recall of alphabetic strings. The dependent measure of interest was the difference in percent recalled for items when grouped into the first or second of two groups that comprised the alphabetic string. When differences in visual short-term memory were controlled, old adults demonstrated a greater sensitivity to grouping by proximity and grouping by similarity than did younger adults. This increase in recall as a function of grouping is consistent with Craik's (1986) (In F. Klix and H. Hagendoff [Eds.], Human memory and cognitive capabilities, mechanisms, and performances [pp. 409- 422]. North Holland: Elsevier) view that older adults can benefit when environmental support is provided for perception and memory components of task performance. The results suggest that applications employing multielement codes or signage may benefit from grouping together related or the most critical items. Most notably, this benefit would be as large or larger for the old than for the younger user populations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Geriatrics and Gerontology