Relational integration, inhibition, and analogical reasoning in older adults

Indre V. Viskontas, Robert G. Morrison, Keith J. Holyoak, John E. Hummel, Barbara J. Knowlton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The difficulty of reasoning tasks depends on their relational complexity, which increases with the number of relations that must be considered simultaneously to make an inference, and on the number of irrelevant items that must be inhibited. The authors examined the ability of younger and older adults to integrate multiple relations and inhibit irrelevant stimuli. Young adults performed well at all but the highest level of relational complexity, whereas older adults performed poorly even at a medium level of relational complexity, especially when irrelevant information was presented. Simulations based on a neurocomputational model of analogical reasoning, Learning and Inference with Schemas and Analogies (LISA), suggest that the observed decline in reasoning performance may be explained by a decline in attention and inhibitory functions in older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)581-591
Number of pages11
JournalPsychology and aging
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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