Working memory predicts subsequent episodic memory decline during healthy cognitive aging: evidence from a cross-lagged panel design

Molly Memel, Cindy B. Woolverton, Kyle Bourassa, Elizabeth L Glisky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Aging adults experience declines in working memory and episodic memory, however, it is unclear how these declines operate over time. Decreased working memorymay be associated with early changes in episodic memory, by reducing older adults’ ability to meaningfully integrate new information into pre-existing schemas and recall information without the assistance of cues. Given the increased prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease, and concerns based on subjective memory changes, it is important to understand how these processes interact over time. To assess the relationship between working memory and episodic memory during healthy cognitive aging, we performed neuropsychological assessments at multiple time points in a sample of 310 community-dwelling older adults. Using a cross-lagged panel design, we demonstrated that the lagged associations between working memory and later episodic free recall were 50% larger than the lagged associations between episodic recall and later working memory, suggesting working memory may be a useful metric of future episodic memory decline.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018



  • aging
  • Cognition
  • longitudinal
  • memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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