Age and Inhibition

Lynn Hasher, Ellen R. Stoltzfus, Rose T. Zacks, Bart Rypma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

502 Scopus citations


Two experiments assess adult age differences in the extent of inhibition or negative priming generated in a selective-attention task. Younger adults consistently demonstrated negative priming effects; they were slower to name a letter on a current trial that had served as a distractor on the previous trial relative to one that had not occurred on the previous trial. Whether or not inhibition dissipated when the response to stimulus interval was lengthened from 500 ms in Experiment 1 to 1,200 ms in Experiment 2 depended upon whether young subjects were aware of the patterns across trial types. Older adults did not show inhibition at either interval. The age effects are interpreted within the Hasher-Zacks (1988) framework, which proposes inhibition as a central mechanism determining the contents of working memory and consequently influencing a wide array of cognitive functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-169
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1991


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology(all)

Cite this

Hasher, L., Stoltzfus, E. R., Zacks, R. T., & Rypma, B. (1991). Age and Inhibition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 17(1), 163-169.