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Distinctiveness and Memory$
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R. Reed Hunt and James B. Worthen

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195169669

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195169669.001.0001

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Adult Age Differences in Episodic Memory: Item-Specific, Relational, and Distinctive Processing

Adult Age Differences in Episodic Memory: Item-Specific, Relational, and Distinctive Processing

Chapter:
(p.258) (p.259) 12 Adult Age Differences in Episodic Memory: Item-Specific, Relational, and Distinctive Processing
Source:
Distinctiveness and Memory
Author(s):

Rebekah E. Smith

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195169669.003.0012

Younger adults often perform better than older adults do on memory tests. Researchers interested in these age-associated performance differences have at times drawn concepts from the “mainstream” research (that is, research that focuses on younger adults) and applied these concepts to explain why older adults frequently do not remember as well as younger adults. This chapter looks at attempts to explain age differences in episodic memory as a function of relational and item-specific processing, and in some cases both kinds of processing. The focus is on studies comparing intentional retrospective memory in healthy younger (generally less than 30 years of age) and older adults (generally 60 years of age and older). The chapter primarily addresses three questions. First, are there age-related differences in item-specific processing? Second, are there age-related differences in relational processing? And finally, are there age-related differences in distinctive processing? The chapter concludes by relating three of the four points concerning distinctiveness raised by R. Reed Hunt to the literature on memory and aging.

Keywords:   age differences, older adults, younger adults, aging, item-specific processing, relational processing, distinctive processing, episodic memory

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