• Episodic intertrial learning of younger and older participants: Effects of age of acquisition

      Almond, N.M.; Morrison, Catriona M. (2014)
      There is clear evidence of a deficit in episodic memory for older adults compared to younger adults. Using an intertrial technique previous research has investigated whether this deficit can be attributed to a decline in encoding or consolidation. On standard memory tests, these two aspects of memory function can be measured by examining the items forgotten or acquired across multiple learning trials. The present study assessed whether age deficits in episodic memory were affected by stimulus characteristics, specifically age of acquisition (AoA). A standard intertrial design was implemented whereby participants studied word lists over several study-test trials. The stimulus characteristics of AoA were manipulated using a pure-list technique. Our findings showed that older adults demonstrate an overall recall deficit which appeared to be a consequence of both an encoding deficit and consolidation weakness. Earlier-acquired words were recalled significantly better than later-acquired words and this was apparently due to both enhanced encoding and consolidation of earlier- over later-acquired words. The key finding is that older adults show a recall advantage for earlier- compared to later-acquired words over the entire experiment to a greater degree than younger adults.