Age Differences in Emotional Integrative Memory
Shaina L. Garrison1, Kelly S. Giovanello1; 1University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Past research has suggested the presence of an age-related deficit in binding together separate components of an episodic memory (Naveh-Benjamin, 2000). Furthermore, these deficits have been shown to be ameliorated by the presence of emotional information in the episode (Murray & Kensinger, 2013). The present study examined cognitive processes contributing to age-related differences in associative recognition memory for emotional and neutral integrated information. Older and younger adults studied word pairs consisting of either two neutral words or one neutral and one emotional (positive or negative) word, under integrative encoding instructions. While all older adults encoded under full attention (OA-FA), younger adults either encoded under full attention (YA-FA), speeded (YA-DA-Item-Hard) or normal-speed item-processing divided attention (YA-DA-Item), or integration-processing divided attention (YA-DA-Integration). Participants then completed item memory (IM) and relational memory (RM) tests. Results indicate that YA-FA participants perform better on the RM test than the IM test for neutral and positive integrations. However, dividing attention at encoding with the YA-DA-Item and YA-DA-Item-Hard conditions eliminated this RM advantage. Critically, both OA-FA and YA-DA-Integration participants demonstrated worse RM than IM performance for negative integrations. The similarity in the pattern of results between these conditions suggests that aging leads to a selective reduction in integrative processing during integrative encoding. This age-related integration deficit may yield a specific deficit in retrieving bound negative and neutral information. The results are interpreted in the context of prominent theories of cognitive and neural changes associated with aging.
Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Development & aging