Effects of age-related reductions in processing resources on text recall

Holland, C. A. and Rabbitt, P. M.A. (1992) Effects of age-related reductions in processing resources on text recall. Journals of Gerontology, 47 (3). ISSN 0022-1422

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Available processing resources are presumed to determine the amount of deep, elaborative processing people can carry out, with reduced resources resulting in poor integration of details from texts, but preserved selection of main points. Two experiments examined whether experimentally reducing resources and levels of processing eventually results in a failure of selection and also whether it produces in younger people the pattern of recall normally observed in elderly people. Experiment 1 examined the effect of the added demand of selecting for preferential recall of a primary theme from a two-theme text. Subjects who putatively had greater processing resources ('younger' elderly in their 60s and those with high intelligence test scores) began to behave like older and lower intelligence test score individuals in that they recalled well main points from both themes but showed reduced recall of details from the secondary theme. In a sentence recognition task, subjects in their 70s more often accepted distractor sentences that did not preserve the meaning of the original text. In Experiment 2, encouraging subjects to process text more elaborately improved recall, especially the recall of the elderly, who began to produce recall protocols resembling those of younger and higher intelligence test score individuals. However, discouraging depth of processing did not have the converse effect of reducing quality of recall by younger and high intelligence test score individuals to resemble that of the old and less able. Instead, recall was generally depressed, with recall of main points being especially affected, suggesting that the oldest, lowest ability subjects were beginning to show a failure of selection here. Results are discussed with reference to possible degeneration of associative networks with advancing age.

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Journal Article
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Journals of Gerontology
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27 Nov 2018 09:32
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15 Sep 2023 00:49