Impact of aging on the dynamics of memory retrieval: A time-course analysis

J Mem Lang. 2012 Aug 1;67(2):285-294. doi: 10.1016/j.jml.2012.05.003. Epub 2012 Jun 5.


The response-signal speed-accuracy trade-off (SAT) procedure was used to provide an in-depth investigation of the impact of aging on the dynamics of short-term memory retrieval. Young and older adults studied sequentially presented 3-item lists, immediately followed by a recognition probe. Analyses of composite list and serial position SAT functions found no differences in overall accuracy, but indicated slower retrieval speed for older adults. Analysis of false alarms to recent negatives (lures from the previous study list) revealed no differences in the timing or magnitude of early false alarms that are thought to reflect familiarity-based judgments. However, onset and accrual of recollective processing required for resolving interference was slower for older adults. These findings suggest that older adults have a selective impairment on controlled and recollective retrieval operations, and further specify this impairment to arise primarily from delayed onset of cognitive control potentially coupled with reduced availability of recollective information.