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Influence of recollection and plausibility on age-related deficits in associative memory

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Age-related declines in associative memory are proposed to result from deficits in older adults’ ability to recollect the past. The present experiment investigated the ability of older adults to compensate for deficits in recollecting the past by using plausibility. Participants studied a list of word pairs that shared category or rhyme relations. To measure the processes used during the recognition memory test, participants provided self-reported explanations for their memory judgements. Older adults relied primarily on plausibility, and the younger adults relied on both plausibility and recollection. Older adults experienced both positive and negative consequences as a result of using a knowledge-based strategy to compensate for their decreased ability to recollect the past. Specifically, they were just as capable as younger adults at recognising previously studied items and correctly rejecting distractors that were inconsistent with the rule provided at study. However, they falsely recognised distractors that were consistent with that rule more often than younger adults.
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Keywords: Ageing; Memory

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, University of Texas – Arlington, Arlington, TX, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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