Age Differences in Episodic Memory, Semantic Memory, and Priming: Relationships to Demographic, Intellectual, and Biological Factors

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 1996 Jul;51(4):P234-40. doi: 10.1093/geronb/51b.4.p234.


This study examined age differences in episodic memory, semantic memory, and priming using a random sample of 1,000 men and women from 10 age groups (35, 40, 45, . . . 80 years). The main purpose was to determine whether an age effect existed after differences on various demographic, intellectual, and biological factors had been controlled for. The simple correlations of age with episodic and semantic memory performance were found to be significant, whereas no relationship was found between age and levels of priming. After controlling for differences on the background factors, age predicted episodic but not semantic memory performance. It is proposed that the failure to account for the age effect on episodic memory is because it is caused by age-related neuronal changes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory* / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sampling Studies
  • Semantics*