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Poster B84

Subjective time and context changes improve working memory in young and older adults

Poster Session B - Sunday, April 14, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Jim Faulkner1 (, Wei-Jie Zhou1, Cindy Lustig1; 1University of Michigan

Theories of memory emphasize correct identification of what we have experienced, and tend to overlook the importance of correctly rejecting what we have not experienced. Beyond its importance in daily life, correct rejection may also provide unique insights into memory mechanisms. Jang et al. (2022) varied the retention interval (4 vs 16 seconds) in a Sternberg working memory task and found higher correct rejection of non-presented ("new") probes after the longer retention interval. This effect was larger in older adults. Notably, drift diffusion modeling indicated that the primary driver of these effects was in the drift rate parameter, rather than a shift in bias. This finding is not easily explained by conventional theories of forgetting during recognition memory, like interference or decay. Instead, it might be explained by theories integrating the role of temporal context in memory. In this pre-registered study, we test the context effect explanation using the same Sternberg working memory task, but fixing the retention interval (RI) at 12s, and manipulating RI context by varying the speed of change of a visual stimulus presented during the RI. The high-change condition is designed to both introduce more contextual change and increase the speed at which participants feel time is passing. As predicted, we found higher correct rejection rates in the high-change condition, and this effect was larger in older adults. These findings add to evidence supporting temporal context theories of memory and generate questions about how reliance on context may affect memory performance in the aging brain.

Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Working memory


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April 13–16  |  2024