In this experimental study, effects of age and education on switching focal attention in working memory were investigated among 44 young (20-30 years) and 40 middle-aged individuals (50 60 years). To this end, a numeric n-back task comprising two lag conditions (land 2-back) was administered within groups. The results revealed a comparable increase of reaction time as a function of lag across age groups, but a disproportionate decrease of accuracy in the middle-aged relative to the young group. The latter effect did not interact with education, which challenges the cognitive reserve hypothesis. Moreover, the high-educated middle-aged participants showed a greater increase of reaction time as a function of lag than their low-educated counterparts. Apparently, they were not able to sustain their relatively high response speed across conditions. These results suggest that education does not protect against age-related decline of switching focal attention in working memory.
van Gerven, P. W. M., Meijer, W. A., & Jolles, J. (2007). Education does not protect against age-related decline of switching focal attention in working memory. Brain and Cognition, 64, 158-163. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bandc.2007.02.005