Using orthographic neighborhood size manipulations to investigate memory deficits in aging memory
Glanc, Gina A.
Logan, Jessica M.
In three previous studies, manipulations of orthographic neighborhood size and orienting task were used to differentiate between item-specific and relational processing in young adults (aged 18–35) in standard recognition tasks. The current study attempts to investigate memory deficits in older adults (aged 65+) using similar manipulations. Experiment 1 manipulated orthographic neighborhood size within an item recognition task. Young adults demonstrated a standard mirror effect, showing more accurate performance for low-N words. No such effect was found in older adults, possibly indicating a deficit in item-specific processing. Experiment 2 included an orienting task during study to emphasize a specific type of processing. While younger adults’ performance was influenced by orienting task, older adults showed consistently better performance for High-N words. These results suggest that older adults show a deficit in item-specific processing, relying more on relational processing regardless of task.