Poster C92, Sunday, March 26, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Pacific Concourse
Aging effects on perceptual and conceptual memory: transformations from short-term to long-term memory
Anisha Adke1, Caitlin R. Bowman1, Dagmar Zeithamova1; 1University of Oregon
Healthy memory function involves remembering both general features (conceptual memory) as well as the specific perceptual details that distinguish between similar events (perceptual memory). It is posited that aging reduces perceptual memory to a greater degree than conceptual memory. Here, we tested if this age-related decline is due to deficits in the initial encoding of perceptual details or because perceptual information shows greater decay over time than conceptual information. Short-term (five second delays) and long-term (30+ minute delays) memory for both conceptual information and perceptual details were compared between young and older adults. In both the short- and long-term tasks, participants studied images of objects followed by a perceptual or conceptual memory test. On perceptual test trials, participants distinguished between target images and highly similar lures. During conceptual memory trials, participants were shown a word and asked if an item with that name had been studied. In the short-term memory task, young and older adults performed well and comparably for both conceptual and perceptual memory, suggesting that older adults do not show a deficit in initial encoding of perceptual details into short-term memory. Long-term memory in young adults was significantly better for conceptual information than perceptual details. Unexpectedly, older adults did not show the same conceptual advantage. Instead, older adults showed similar levels of forgetting for both conceptual and perceptual information. Thus, forgetting seems to be the largest contributor to long-term memory decrement in older adults, and this decline can be equal for both conceptual information and perceptual details.
Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Development & aging