The Effects of Self-Reference on Relational Memory in Young and Older Adults
AdvisorGlisky, Elizabeth L.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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EmbargoRelease after 12/31/2020
AbstractPrior studies suggest that older adults show age-related impairments in relational memory, which may be attributed to decreased ability in basic memory and executive functions. The two studies presented in this dissertation investigated the effectiveness of self-reference, an encoding strategy, on different subtypes of relational memory in young and older adults, and the extent to which the effect varies as a function of individual differences in basic memory and executive functioning. Study 1 investigated the influence of self-reference on two kinds of relational memory, internal source memory and associative memory, in young and older adults. Forty young and 40 older adults encoded object-location word pairs using the strategies of imagination and sentence generation, either with reference to themselves or to a famous other (i.e., George Clooney or Oprah Winfrey). Both young and older adults showed better memory performance in the self-referential conditions compared to other-referential conditions on both tests, and the self-referential effects in older adults were not limited by low memory or executive functioning. Study 2 investigated the effectiveness of self-reference on memory for multi-element events. Thirty-six young and 36 older adults imagined person-object-location events with reference to themselves, George Clooney or Oprah Winfrey, and were later assessed on their memory for the events via multiple, cued, forced-choice recognition tasks. Self-reference was found to increase memory for the multi-element events in both young and older adults, and the benefit of self-reference was not correlated with memory functioning in either group. Further, self-reference did not increase memory coherence—the extent to which the retrieval outcomes of different pairwise associations within the imagined events were dependent on one another. These findings are discussed in terms of the potentially different binding mechanisms involved in self-related and non-self-related memories. The results of these studies also suggest that self-reference can benefit relational memory in older adults relatively independently of basic memory and executive functions, and may be a viable strategy to improve relational memory in individuals with different levels of neuropsychological functioning.
Degree ProgramGraduate College