Inhibitory control of memory in normal ageing: dissociation between impaired intentional and preserved unintentional processes

Memory. 2009 Jan;17(1):104-22. doi: 10.1080/09658210802574146. Epub 2008 Dec 22.


The aim of this study was to compare the performance of elderly and young participants on a series of memory tasks involving either intentional or unintentional inhibitory control of memory content. Intentional inhibition processes in working and episodic memory were explored with directed forgetting tasks and in semantic memory with the Hayling task. Unintentional inhibitory processes in working memory, long-term memory, and semantic memory were explored with an interference resolution task, the retrieval practice paradigm, and the flanker task, respectively. The results indicate that elderly participants' performance on the two directed forgetting tasks and the Hayling task is lower than that of young ones, and that this impairment is not related to their initial memory capacity. This suggests that there is a specific dysfunction affecting intentional inhibitory control of memory contents in normal ageing.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Mental Processes
  • Middle Aged
  • Young Adult