Using orthographic neighborhood size manipulations to investigate memory deficits in aging memory
Glanc, Gina A.; Logan, Jessica M.; Grime, Megan; Anuwe, Antonette; Thompson, Janelle
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.