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The Role of Attention and Ageing in the Retrieval Dynamics of Value-Directed Remembering

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The Role of Attention and Ageing in the Retrieval Dynamics of Value-Directed Remembering


Dillon H Murphy & Alan D Castel



ABSTRACT

For memory to be efficient, people need to remember important information. This involves selective encoding and retrieval operations to maximise the recall of valuable information at the expense of less important information. While past research has examined this in terms of strategic encoding operations, we investigated differences in the dynamics of retrieval in value-directed remembering tasks with younger adults under full and divided attention during encoding as well as in older adults. Participants typically initiated recall with the first presented, last presented, or highest valued words and also strategically organised retrieval according to information value such that high-value words tended to be recalled before low-value words. However, the average value of older adults’ first recalled word was greater than that of younger adults, likely contributing to their enhanced selectivity. In addition, there were no differences in lag-conditional-response probabilities in younger adults under full or divided attention, but older adults showed impairments in the retrieval of items sharing contextual features with nearby items, while younger adults relied more on temporal-contextual cues to recall words. Together, this study suggests that both strategic encoding and strategic retrieval operations contribute to selectivity for valuable information and older adults may be able to maximise retrieval operations despite displaying impairments in temporal binding during encoding and an overall recall deficit.






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