Proactive effects of memory in young and older adults: The role of change recollection

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Chris Wahlheim, Assistant Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Age-related deficits in episodic memory are sometimes attributed to older adults being more susceptible to proactive interference. These deficits have been explained by impaired abilities to inhibit competing information and to recollect target information. In the present article, I propose that a change recollection deficit also contributes to age differences in proactive interference. Change recollection occurs when individuals can remember how information changed across episodes, and this counteracts proactive interference by preserving the temporal order of information. Three experiments were conducted to determine whether older adults are less likely to counteract proactive interference by recollecting change. Paired-associate learning paradigms with two lists of word pairs included pairs that repeated across lists, pairs that only appeared in List 2 (control items), and pairs with cues that repeated and responses that changed across lists. Young and older adults’ abilities to detect changed pairs in List 2 and to later recollect those changes at test were measured, along with cued recall of the List 2 responses and confidence in recall performance. Change recollection produced proactive facilitation in the recall of changed pairs, whereas the failure to recollect change resulted in proactive interference. Confidence judgments were sensitive to these effects. The critical finding was that older adults recollected change less than did young adults, and this partially explained older adults’ greater susceptibility to proactive interference. These findings have theoretical implications, showing that a change recollection deficit contributes to age-related deficits in episodic memory.

Additional Information

Memory & Cognition, 42(6), 950-964
Language: English
Date: 2014
Aging, Change detection, Change recollection, Proactive interference, Reminding, Metacognition

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