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Dementia & Neuropsychologia

Print version ISSN 1980-5764

Dement. neuropsychol. vol.1 no.3 São Paulo July/Sept. 2007

http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1980-57642008DN10300009 

Original Articles

The influence of schooling on working memory performance in elderly individuals without cognitive decline

A influência da escolaridade no desempenho da memória operacional de idosos sem declínio cognitivo

Juliana Nery de Souza-Talarico 1  

Paulo Caramelli 2  

Ricardo Nitrini 3  

Eliane Corrêa Chaves 4  

1MSc, Nursing School Post-Graduation Program, Department of Medical-Surgical Nursing of the University of São Paulo Nursing School and Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology Unit, Department of Neurology, Hospital das Clinicas of the University of São Paulo School Medicine., São Paulo, SP, Brazil.

2MD, PhD, Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology Unit, Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine of the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil.

3MD, PhD, Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology Unit, Department of Neurology and Cognitive Disorders Reference Center (CEREDIC). Hospital das Clinicas of the University of São Paulo School Medicine, São Paulo, SP, Brazil.

4PhD, Department of Medical-Surgical Nursing of the University of São Paulo Nursing School, São Paulo, SP, Brazil.

Abstract

Over recent decades, research on cognition has been developed rapidly toward better understanding the cognitive changes that usually occur during normal aging. There is evidence that elderly individuals have worse working memory performance than young adults. However, the effect of education on this cognitive function remains unclear. Objectives: To analyze the performance of healthy elderly subjects on working memory tasks and to verify the influence of educational level on this performance. Methods: Forty elderly individuals without cognitive impairment and fully independent, were randomly chosen from a group of subjects participating in cultural activities at the university campus. The Digit Span Forward (DSF) test was used to evaluate attention performance. The working memory performance was assessed by the Digit Span Backward (DSB) and the difference between DSF and DSB. The data were statistically analyzed using the Spearman's correlation coefficient to verify the correlation between the Digit Span (DS) scores and the variables age and schooling, while the Multiple Linear Regression Model was used to verify the effect of these variables on the DS scores. Results: A significant positive correlation (r=0.41, p<0.01) as well as a significant association (b=0.506; p=0.001; CI 95%= 0.064/0.237) were found between years of schooling and DSB scores. It was not observed statistical correlation (r= -0.08, p=0.64) or association (b=0.41; p=0.775; CI 95%= -0.049/0.065) between age and DSB scores. Conclusion: In this study, higher levels of schooling were associated with better working memory performance in cognitively healthy elders.

Key words: aging; education; working memory.

Resumo

Ao longo das últimas décadas pesquisas em cognição têm sido desenvolvidas rapidamente na tentativa de compreender as mudanças cognitivas que acontecem durante o processo de envelhecimento. Existem evidências de que indivíduos idosos têm pior desempenho de memória operacional do que adultos jovens. No entanto, o efeito da escolaridade sobre desempenho ainda não foi totalmente esclarecido. Objetivos: Analisar o desempenho da memória operacional de idosos sem comprometimento cognitivo e verificar a influência da escolaridade neste desempenho. Métodos: Foram avaliados 40 idosos sem comprometimento cognitivo, independentes, escolhidos aleatoriamente em um grupo de idosos que participaram de uma atividade cultural no campus universitário. Foi utilizado o teste de extensão de dígitos na ordem direta (EDOD) para avaliar a atenção. A memória operacional foi examinada a partir do teste de extensão de dígitos na ordem inversa (EDOI) e a partir da diferença entre EDOD e EDOI. Os dados foram estatisticamente analisados, sendo o Coeficiente de Correlação de Spearman utilizado para verificar correlação entre os escores dos testes de extensão de dígitos (ED) e as variáveis idade e escolaridade e o Modelo de Regressão Linear Múltipla para verificar o efeito destas variáveis nos escores do teste ED. Resultados: Foi observada correlação positiva significativa (r=0,41, p<0,01) e associação significativa (b=0,506; p=0,001; CI 95%=0,064/0,237) entre escolaridade e o escore do EDOI. Não foi observada correlação (r= -0,08, p=0,64) ou associação ((b=0,041; p=0,775; CI 95%= -0,049/0,065) entre idade e os escores do EDOI. Conclusão: Neste estudo, maiores níveis de escolaridade associaram-se com melhor desempenho de memória operacional.

Palavras-chave: envelhecimento; escolaridade; memória operacional.

Texto completo disponível apenas em PDF.

Full text available only in PDF format.

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Juliana Nery de Souza-Talarico - Rua Hollywood 1180 / Cond Paysage Vert - 06730-000 Vargem Grande Paulista SP - Brazil. E-mail: juli3@bol.com.br

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