Aging’s Effect on Working Memory—Modality Comparison

Eyal Heled, Ohad Levi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research exploring the impact of development and aging on working memory (WM) has primarily concentrated on visual and verbal domains, with limited attention paid to the tactile modality. The current study sought to evaluate WM encompassing storage and manipulation across these three modalities, spanning from childhood to old age. The study included 134 participants, divided into four age groups: 7–8, 11–12, 25–35, and 60–69. Each participant completed the Visuospatial Span, Digit Span, and Tactual Span, with forward and backward recall. The findings demonstrated a consistent trend in both forward and backward stages. Performance improved until young adulthood, progressively diminishing with advancing age. In the forward stage, the Tactual Span performance was worse than that of the Digit and Visuospatial Span for all participants. In the backward stage, the Visuospatial Span outperformed the Digit and Tactual Span across all age groups. Furthermore, the Tactual Span backward recall exhibited significantly poorer performance than the other modalities, primarily in the youngest and oldest age groups. In conclusion, age impacts WM differently across modalities, with tactile storage capacity being the most vulnerable. Additionally, tactile manipulation skills develop later in childhood but deteriorate sooner in adulthood, indicating a distinct component within tactile WM.

Original languageEnglish
Article number835
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • aging
  • development
  • Digit Span
  • Tactual Span
  • Visuospatial Span
  • working memory

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology


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