Age-Related Differences in Overcoming Interference When Selectively Remembering Important Info
Age-related differences in overcoming interference when selectively remembering important information
Dillon H. Murphy and Alan D. Castel
We examined the effects of interference on value-based memory in younger and older adults by presenting participants with lists of words paired with point values counting towards their score if recalled. In Experiment 1, we created a situation where there was a buildup of interference such that participants could recall words from any studied list to earn points. However, to increase participants’ motivation to combat interference, we told participants that if they recalled words from previously studied lists, those words would be worth double the original point value of the word. In Experiment 2, to examine age-related differences in the absence of any interference, participants studied and were tested on the same set of words throughout several study-test cycles. The buildup of interference caused by participants needing to recall both just-studied and previously studied words in Experiment 1 impaired selectivity in older adults relative to younger adults and this effect was particularly pronounced when considering the recall of just prior-list words. However, in the absence of interference, there was not an overall recall deficit or any selectivity impairments in older adults. Thus, proactive and retroactive interference seem to be largely responsible for age-related deficits in selective memory for important information.