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  • Writer's pictureDillon Murphy

Memory and Automatic Processing of Valuable Information in Younger and Older Adults


ANC_Murphy, Hoover, Castel, & Knowlton, 2024
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Memory and Automatic Processing of Valuable Information in Younger and Older Adults

Dillon H. Murphy, Kara M. Hoover, Alan D. Castel, and Barbara J. Knowlton


People often engage in the selective remembering of valuable or important information, whether strategic and/or automatic. We examined potential age-related differences in the automatic processing of value during encoding on later remembering by presenting participants with words paired with point values (range: 1-10 twice or 1-20) to remember for a later test. On the first three lists, participants were told that they would receive the points associated with each word if they recalled it on the test (their goal was to maximize their score). On the last three lists, we told participants that all words were worth the same number of points if recalled on the tests, thus making the point value paired with each word meaningless. Results revealed that selective memory may be impaired in older adults using procedures with larger value ranges. Additionally, we demonstrated that the automatic effects of value may have a greater effect on younger adults relative to older adults, but there may be instances where older adults also exhibit these automatic effects. Finally, strategic and automatic processes may not be related within each learner, suggesting that these processes may rely on different cognitive mechanisms. This indicates that these processes could be underpinned by distinct cognitive mechanisms: strategic processes might engage higher-level cognitive operations like imagery, while automatic processes appear to be more perceptually driven.

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