Poster B68, Sunday, March 25, 8:00-10:00 am, Exhibit Hall C
Does aging influence the use of episodic memory in decision making?
Hannah Tarder-Stoll1, Azara Lalla1, Lynn Hasher1, Katherine Duncan1; 1University of Toronto
There is a well-documented decline in episodic memory function in healthy aging (Nyberg et al., 2012). However, older adults still perform well on decision making tasks that utilize past experiences (Flores et al., 2017). This apparent incongruity may be due to the arbitrary nature of most memory tasks with minimal motivational elements. In the current study, we investigated how younger and older adults use memory to make optimal decisions. Participants completed a card game in which they used object-point associations learned during a single event (episodic memory) to win as many points as possible. Older adults reliably used their episodic memories to guide their decisions, but did so significantly less than younger adults (β=-0.692, p=0.024). But do these age-related shifts in decisions reflect a reduced use of memories or an increased reliance on other types of memories? To answer this question, we also asked how aging influences the use of semantic memories (each object’s value in the real world) and task irrelevant associations (changes to the card’s location). Older adults’ choices were significantly more biased by the semantic value of objects as compared to younger adults (β=-.026, p=.037). Additionally, older adults’ preferences were significantly more influenced by memories of cards’ previous spatial location as compared to younger adults (β=.242, p=.043). Together these findings suggest that older adults incorporate many types of memories, but younger adults selectively utilize what in this instance is the most relevant information, memories, pointing to an age-related shift in cognitive strategies used to make optimal decisions.
Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Episodic