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The research catalogue is an archive of ESRC-funded grants and outputs. Links, files and other content will no longer be maintained or updated after April 2014.

Age Differences in the Implementation of Knowledge and Experience to Support Memory

As the proportion of older adults in society continues to rise in the 21st century, geriatric research is becoming increasingly important. Ageing results in the decline of both physical and cognitive abilities and the most widespread cognitive decline is a reduction in memory ability. Recent research has found that when information is consistent with an individual’s knowledge and experience, it is easier to remember than abstract information and older adults appear to benefit from this effect more than do young adults. For example, when people are asked to remember an association between two words, age differences in memory performance are smaller for related word pairs (article-book,  fatigue-sleep)  compared to unrelated word pairs (article-lapel,  fatigue-glass). It may therefore be possible to improve memory, particularly for older adults, by encouraging individuals to use knowledge and information that they are familiar with to support memory processes. The project will use a range of memory tests to investigate how people can use knowledge about the world to distinguish between different information in memory during retrieval; improve the chances of thinking in the same way when encoding information and when retrieving information; and reduce the amount of effort required to successfully encode and retrieve information.