There are places I remember--maybe: the effects of age and memory techniques in the creation of false memories

Erica Hanuschak, The College of Wooster


According to the Fuzzy Trace Theory, one possible explanation for age differences in vulnerability to false memories is that in aging there is a shift from reliance on verbatim memory processes for item specific information, which contributes to better correct recall, to a gist based process of memory that focuses on more general concepts of information and produces more false memories. Using the Deese/Roediger-McDermott (DRM) paradigm (Deese, 1959; Roediger & McDermott, 1995), 36 words were presented to young and older adults for recall. In the DRM paradigm, word lists are present in such a way that each word list is related to a critical lure that is not seen or studied. The primary factor of interest in the current study was the manner of presentation of the word lists to young and older adults that would enhance either item specific processes or gist based processes. Participants studied the word lists as words, pictures, or cognitive maps. Results indicate that although, overall, older adults recall more false memories than younger adults, the use of a distinctiveness heuristic in the form of picture presentation was able to decrease false memories in young and older adults, but more markedly in older adults.