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March 2023

Adult age differences in memory in relation to availability and accessibility of knowledge-based schemas

Author(s): Vanderleck, V. F., Harsany, M., Lapidus, S.

Journal/Book: J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 1990; 16: 305-15.

Abstract: Three experiments investigated whether, over adulthood, the use of schemas to process and remember new information increases (developmental shift hypothesis), decreases (production deficiency hypothesis) or remains constant (age-invariance hypothesis). Effects of schema access were studied by having young, middle-aged, and old music experts and nonexperts recall information that was relevant or irrelevant to music (Experiment 1) and by comparing young and old participants' memory for prose passages when they knew or did not know the subject of the passage (Experiments 2 and 3). In each case, schema access facilitated memory equally across age levels, supporting the age-invariance hypothesis and implying that the basic structures and operations of memory do not necessarily change with age. Possible limits on the independence of age and schema utilization were considered in relation to the conditions under which each of the two alternative hypotheses might hold.

Keyword(s): Adult ; Aged ; Generalization Psychology; Memory physiology; Middle Age; Models, Psychological; Music ; Recall Aging ; Memory Female; Human; Male; Support, Non U.S. Gov't

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