Studies of directed forgetting in older adults

J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 1996 Jan;22(1):143-56. doi: 10.1037//0278-7393.22.1.143.


Younger and older adults were compared in 4 directed forgetting experiments. These varied in the use of categorized versus unrelated word lists and in the use of item by item versus blocked remember-forget cueing procedures. Consistent with L. Hasher and R. T. Zacks's (1988) hypothesis of impaired inhibitory mechanisms in older adults, a variety of findings indicated that this age group is less able than younger adults to suppress the processing and retrieval of items designated as to be forgotten (TBF). Specifically, in comparison with younger adults, older adults produced more TBF word intrusions on an immediate recall test (Experiments 1A and 1B), took longer to reject TBF items (relative to a neutral baseline) on an immediate recognition test (Experiment 3), and recalled (Experiments 1A, 1B, and 2) and recognized (Experiment 1B and 2) relatively more TBF items on delayed retention tests in which all studied items were designated as targets.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging*
  • Humans
  • Memory*
  • Mental Recall
  • Middle Aged
  • Wechsler Scales