Guilty, Innocent, or Just Not Proven? Bayesian Verdicts in the Case of Inhibitory Deficits

Joel Myerson, Kyle G. Featherston, Cynthia Flores, Lindsey Lilienthal, Young Bui, Sandra Hale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: This study addresses two issues: Whether age-related differences in working memory (WM) can be studied in online samples, and whether such differences reflect an inhibitory deficit. Currently, the evidence is mixed, but the playing field was not level because traditional statistics cannot provide evidence for the null hypothesis. Experiment 1: MTurk workers (ages 19–74) performed simple and complex visuospatial WM tasks to determine whether a secondary task affected the rate of age-related decline. Performance on both tasks replicated previous laboratory studies, establishing that age-related differences in WM can be studied online. Bayesian analyses revealed it is ten times as likely that there is no inhibitory deficit on visuospatial WM tasks as that there is. Experiment 2: The effects of irrelevant location information on visuospatial WM were examined in older (M age = 64.0) and younger (M age = 25.0) MTurk workers. Irrelevant locations produced interference, but both groups were equally affected. Bayesian analyses provided support for the null hypothesis of no age difference. Conclusions: The results of both experiments on working memory not only revealed equivalent visuospatial inhibitory function in older and younger adults, they also demonstrated that age-related differences in visuospatial WM can be effectively studied online as well as in the laboratory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalExperimental Aging Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aging
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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