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Poster C40

Evoking Episodic and Semantic Details with Instructional Manipulation in Young and Older Adults

Poster Session C - Sunday, April 14, 2024, 5:00 – 7:00 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Louis Renoult1 (, Greta Melega1,2, Fiona Lancelotte3, Ann-Kathrin Johnen4, Michael Hornberger1, Brian Levine5; 1University of East Anglia, School of Psychology, Nowich, UK, 2Department of Neurology, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany, 3School of Psychology, University of Sussex, UK, 4School of Social Sciences, Birmingham City University, UK, 5Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest, Toronto, Ontario, Canada and Departments of Psychology and Medicine (Neurology), University of Toronto

Older adults tend to describe experiences from their past with fewer episodic details, such as spatiotemporal and contextually specific information, but more non-episodic details, particularly personal semantic knowledge, than younger adults. While the interpretation of the reduced episodic details is transparently interpreted in the context of episodic memory decline typical of aging, the interpretation of the increased production of semantic details is not as straightforward. We modified the widely used Autobiographical Interview (AI) to create a Semantic Autobiographical Interview (SAI) that explicitly targets personal semantic (P-SAI) and general semantic memories (G-SAI) with the aim of better understanding the production of semantic information in aging in relation to instructional manipulation. Older adults produced a higher proportion of off-task utterances (i.e., details not probed by instructions) across all sections of the interview. Specifically, older adults produced more autobiographical facts in the AI, more episodic and general semantic details in the P-SAI, and more self-knowledge in the G-SAI, as compared to young adults. However, older adults also consistently produced more probed autobiographical facts than did young adults on the P-SAI. These findings suggest that the increased production of semantic details in aging reflects a bias in autobiographical recall that goes beyond episodic remembering, as reflected by an age-associated abundance of semantic details across sections of the interview, findings that are not accommodated by accounts of aging and memory emphasizing reduced cognitive control or compensation for episodic memory impairment.

Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Semantic


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April 13–16  |  2024