Poster B87, Sunday, March 26, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
A Look at Age and Relational Memory: Explicit and Implicit Measures Show Differences in Relational Memory Performance Between Healthy Young and Older Adults
David Warren1, Kelsey Spalding2, Alice Olvera2,3, Kevin Selden2, Melissa Duff4, Daniel Tranel2; 1University of Nebraska Medical Center, 2University of Iowa, 3Loyola Marymount University, 4Vanderbilt University
Relational memory processes bind together arbitrarily-related stimuli (e.g., faces and scenes) and are known to depend on the hippocampus. Meanwhile, the hippocampus is affected by healthy aging, and there is evidence that hippocampal-dependent relational memory degrades with age. However, studies of age and relational memory often use explicit measures (e.g., overt responses), but effects of relational memory are also evident in implicit measures (e.g., eye movements) even absent conscious awareness. Critically, implicit measures of relational memory in healthy aging are not currently available. This study tests the relationship between relational memory and age using explicit and implicit measures. Participants were recruited from two populations: younger adults (age 18-24; N=30); and older adults (50-84 y.o.; N=40). During the task, participants were asked to study face-scene pairs presented three times. Participants then completed a three-alternative forced-choice (3AFC) recognition task and a match-detection task. Relational memory performance was evaluated using both explicit measures (overt responses) and implicit measures (eye movements). Preliminary findings suggest that explicit memory performance during the 3AFC task was significantly impaired in older adults as compared to younger adults (p<.05). Analyses comparing eye-movements to selected matching faces (correct responses) versus selected non-matching faces (incorrect responses) revealed that for older adults a relational memory effect was attenuated (p<.05). Our findings illustrate a link between age and measures of explicit and implicit relational memory which could reflect underlying hippocampal volume loss. These effects could potentially be useful for early detection of age-related disease processes which affect the hippocampus such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Development & aging