Researcher ORCID Identifier


Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis


Best Senior Thesis in Neuroscience

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Catherine L. Reed

Reader 2

Alison M. Harris

Rights Information

2023 Jasmin P Joshi


Do age-related differences in working memory capacities predict specific neural responses? Theories of working memory (WM) suggest that there are different types of WM processes that are associated with specific neural networks and WM declines with age. Event-related potentials (ERPs) evoked by certain tasks are also associated with specific cognitive functions. This study investigates whether specific types of working memory capacities are related to corresponding neural indices of attention and context updating (P3; visual oddball task) or semantic (N400; word-pair paradigm task) processes. In addition, it examines whether age affects this relationship. Younger adults (n=30; ages 18-23) and older adults (n=9; ages 69-89) completed three working memory span tasks (operation span, reading span, and symmetry span) and two ERP tasks (P3, N400). As measured by the Shipley Institute of Living Scale, both groups had similar IQs. No age-related differences were found for the operation and reading span tasks, but older adults had decreased capacity for the symmetry span task suggesting decreased visuospatial capacity. Older adults tended to have lower ERP amplitudes and longer ERP latencies. However, preliminary results suggest that age and WM task did not interact strongly with ERP amplitude and latency measures, although there was some suggestion that operation span affected P3 latencies and reading span and marginally operation span influenced N400 latencies. Increased sample sizes, especially for the older adult group, will be needed to clarify these findings.

Available for download on Thursday, May 01, 2025