Chapter 7: Memory
Memory gives a sense of identity.
Use it daily.
Older adults are stereotyped as people whose memory declines.
Memory intimately involves our sense of self.
3 General Steps
1. Encoding: Process of getting information into the memory system.
2. Storage: Manner in which information is represented and kept in
3. Retrieval: Getting information back out of memory.
No evidence of age difference in how information is organized in storage.
Information Processing Revisited
Working Memory: Processes and structures involved in holding information
in mind and simultaneously using that information to solve a problem, make
a decision, or learn new information.
Evidence that older adults perform more poorly on simple span tasks than
Associated with active information processing.
Age-sensitive factor that affects long-term memory processing.
Plays active, critical, and central role in encoding, storage, and retrieval.
Older adults perform more poorly when presented with multiple tasks.
Salthouse, Babcock and Shaw argue the loss of ability to hold items in
working memory may limit overall cognitive functioning in older adults.
Reduced working memory capacity may result from slower rate of
Differences in working memory; information being used, type of task, gender,
and life experiences.
Long-Term Memory: Ability to remember extensive amounts of information
from a few seconds to a few hours to decades.
Consists of multiple systems that are functionally different and are served by
different brain structures.
2 Types: Conscious (explicit) memory and non-conscious (implicit) memory.
Explicit Memory: the deliberate and conscious remembering of information
learned and remembered at a specific time.
o Declarative Memory: Memory for facts and events. (Divided into
episodic and semantic memory) o Episodic Memory: General class of memory having to do with the
conscious recollection of information from a specific event/time.
o Semantic Memory: Concerns learning and remembering the meaning
of words and concepts that are not tied to specific occurrences of
events in time.
Age Differences in Episodic Memory
Recall: Involves remembering information without hints/cues.
Recognition: Involves selecting previously learned information from among
Adults over 60 do not do as well as younger adults on tests of episodic
Differences are smaller on recognition tests between older and younger
Older adults are less efficient at spontaneously using internal study
Failure to use association and repetition may result from processing speed
and associative memory.
Allowing older adults to practice/perform similar task before learning a new
list improves performance.
Use material that is more familiar to older adults.
Adults can use compensatory strategies to help themselves remember, and
beliefs about memory can affect performance.
Older adults are disadvantaged when faced with rapid-paced, disorganized
Age Differences in Semantic Memory
Spared major age-related deficits in the absence of disease.
No deficits in semantic memory processes. (Language, comprehension,
knowledge structure, and general knowledge activation.
o Some decline after 85.
Retrieved conceptually as part of our world knowledge.
Accessibility declines with age.
o Tip of the tongue experiences.
Remote Memory, or Autobiographical Memory
Remote Memory: Information that must be kept for a very long time.
o Includes facts learned earlier. (Meaning of words, past life
Hard to study
o Cannot verify facts (if it happened or not) and it may be related to
inability to retrieve/failure to learn the information.
Autobiographical Memory: Involves remembering information/events from
one’s own life.
o Provide personal history and help define who we are. Retention Function: 20-30 most recent years of a person’s life.
o Most likely to remember people/events.
Reminiscence Bump: Around 40.
o More likely to retrieve memories from when you were 10-30.
Infantile Amnesia: Small number of memories available from very early
Permstore: Virtually permanent memories.
Implicit Memory: Effortless and unconscious recollection of information.
May be an exception to the general finding of age-related decline in long-
term memory for new information.
Sources of Age Differences in Memory
Age Differences in Encoding and Retrieval
Elaborative Rehearsal: Involves making connections b/w incoming
information and information already known.
Older adults are less likely to engage in effective ways of processing
information both at encoding and at retrieval.
Divided attention disrupts memory performance.
Use of Strategies
2 effective strategies: Organize and establish links.
Older adults do not spontaneously organize