• The Role of the Medial Temporal Lobes in Older Adults' Associative Deficit: A Behavioral Study

      Glisky, Elizabeth; Bisbee, Molly; Ryan, Lee; Nadel, Lee (The University of Arizona., 2012)
      It is well established that older adults show a deficit in episodic memory. The associative deficit hypothesis (ADH) (Naveh-Benjamin, 2000) suggests that an age-related reduced ability to create links between units of information is a major contributor to the episodic deficit. It has been a robust finding that older adults show a disproportionate decline in associative memory relative to item memory when compared to young adults. Previous researchers have investigated the role of the frontal lobes (FL) by studying the effect of reduced attentional resources in the associative deficit. However, they have not found that divided attention in young adults produces the disproportionate associative decline seen in aging and it is thought that some cognitive process other than the allocation of attentional resources may contribute to the associative deficit. The present study intended to use a divided attention (DA) task that also engages medial temporal brain regions (MTL) in order to tax additional parts of the network involved in creating associations and provide indirect support for the role of the MTL in the associative deficit. However, the associative memory deficit in older adults was not replicated due to unique poor associative memory performance of some young adults in the study. Analyses excluding these participants show support for the role of the MTL in the associative deficit. However, the young poor performers may provide support for the role of FL function in the associative deficit and show that poor associative memory may not be limited to the older adult cohort.