Healthy ageing reduces the precision of episodic memory retrieval

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Saana KorkkiJon S Simons


Episodic memory declines with older age, but it is unresolved whether this decline reflects reduced probability of successfully retrieving information from memory, or decreased precision of the retrieved information. Here, we used continuous measures of episodic memory retrieval in combination with computational modelling of participants' retrieval errors to distinguish between these two potential accounts of age-related memory deficits. In three experiments, young and older participants encoded stimuli displays consisting of everyday objects varying along different perceptual features (e.g., location, colour and orientation) in a circular space. At test, participants recreated the features of studied objects using a continuous response dial. Across all three experiments, we observed age-related declines in the precision of episodic memory retrieval, whereas age differences in retrieval success were limited to the most challenging task condition. Reductions in mnemonic precision were evident for retrieval of both item-based and contextual information, and persisted after controlling for age-related decreases in the fidelity of perception and working memory. The findings highlight impoverished precision of memory representations...Continue Reading

Related Concepts

Memory, Short-Term
Memory Impairment
Memory, Episodic

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