Evidence for Age-Equivalent and Task-Dissociative Metacognition in the Memory Domain.
ABSTRACT: Research suggests that metacognitive monitoring ability does not decline with age. For example, judgments-of-learning (JOL) accuracy is roughly equivalent between younger and older adults. But few studies have asked whether younger and older adults' metacognitive ability varies across different types of memory processes (e.g., for items vs. pairs). The current study tested the relationship between memory and post-decision confidence ratings at the trial level on item (individual words) and associative (word pairs) memory recognition tests. As predicted, younger and older adults had similar metacognitive efficiency, when using meta-d'/d', a measure derived from Signal Detection Theory, despite a significant age effect favoring younger adults on memory performance. This result is consistent with previous work showing age-equivalent metacognitive efficiency in the memory domain. We also found that metacognitive efficiency was higher for associative memory than for item memory across age groups, even though associative and item recognition memory (d') were statistically equivalent. Higher accuracy on post-test decision confidence ratings for associative recognition relative to item recognition on resolution accuracy itself (meta-d') and when corrected for performance differences (meta-d'/d') are novel findings. Implications for associative metacognition are discussed.
Project description:Previous work supports an age-specific impairment for recognition memory of pairs of words and other stimuli. The present study tested the generalization of an associative deficit across word, name, and nonword stimulus types in younger and older adults. Participants completed associative and item memory tests in one of three stimulus conditions and made metacognitive ratings of perceptions of self-efficacy, task success ("postdictions"), strategy success, task effort, difficulty, fatigue, and stamina. Surprisingly, no support was found for an age-related associative deficit on any of the stimulus types. We analyzed our data further using a multilayer perceptron artificial neural network. The network was trained to classify individuals as younger or older and its hidden unit activities were examined to identify data patterns that distinguished younger from older participants. Analysis of hidden unit activities revealed that the network was able to correctly classify by identifying three different clusters of participants, with two qualitatively different groups of older individuals. One cluster of older individuals found the tasks to be relatively easy, they believed they had performed well, and their beliefs were accurate. The other cluster of older individuals found the tasks to be difficult, believed they were performing relatively poorly, yet their beliefs did not map accurately onto their performance. Crucially, data from the associative task were more useful for neural networks to discriminate between younger and older adults than data from the item task. This work underscores the importance of considering both individual and age differences as well as metacognitive responses in the context of associative memory paradigms.
Project description:OBJECTIVES:Older adults experience associative memory deficits relative to younger adults (Old & Naveh-Benjamin, 2008). The aim of this study was to test the effect of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on face-name associative memory in older and younger adults. METHOD:Experimenters applied active (1.5 mA) or sham (0.1 mA) stimulation with the anode placed over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) during a face-name encoding task, and measured both cued recall and recognition performance. Participants completed memory tests immediately after stimulation and after a 24-h delay to examine both immediate and delayed stimulation effects on memory. RESULTS:Results showed improved face-name associative memory performance for both recall and recognition measures, but only for younger adults, whereas there was no difference between active and sham stimulation for older adults. For younger adults, stimulation-induced memory improvements persisted after a 24-h delay, suggesting delayed effects of tDCS after a consolidation period. DISCUSSION:Although effective in younger adults, these results suggest that older adults may be resistant to this intervention, at least under the stimulation parameters used in the current study. This finding is inconsistent with a commonly seen trend, where tDCS effects on cognition are larger in older than younger adults.
Project description:Age-related deficits in associative processing are well-documented (e.g., Naveh-Benjamin, 2000) and have been assumed to be the result of a general deficit that affects all types of binding. However, recent behavioral research has indicated that the visual configuration of the information that is presented to older adults influences the degree to which this binding deficit is exhibited by older adults (Overman, Dennis et al, 2019; Overman, Dennis, et al., 2018). The purpose of the present study was to further clarify the neural underpinnings of the associative deficit in aging and to examine whether functional activity at encoding differs with respect to the visual configuration and the type of associative being encoded. Using both univariate and multi-voxel pattern analysis, we found differences in both the magnitude of activation and pattern of neural responses associated with the type of association encoded (item-item and item-context). Specifically, our results suggest that, when controlling for stimuli composition, patterns of activation in sensory and frontal regions within the associative encoding network are able to distinguish between different types of associations. With respect to the MTL, multivariate results suggest that only patterns of activation in the PrC in older, but not younger adults, can distinguish between associations types. These findings extend prior work regarding the neural basis of associative memory in young and older adults, and extends the predictions of the binding of item and context model (BIC; Diana, Yonelinas, Ranganath, 2007) to older adults.
Project description:Spatial cognitive performance is impaired in later adulthood but it is unclear whether the metacognitive processes involved in monitoring spatial cognitive performance are also compromised. Inaccurate monitoring could affect whether people choose to engage in tasks that require spatial thinking and also the strategies they use in spatial domains such as navigation. The current experiment examined potential age differences in monitoring spatial cognitive performance in a variety of spatial domains including visual-spatial working memory, spatial orientation, spatial visualization, navigation, and place learning. Younger and older adults completed a 2D mental rotation test, 3D mental rotation test, paper folding test, spatial memory span test, two virtual navigation tasks, and a cognitive mapping test. Participants also made metacognitive judgments of performance (confidence judgments, judgments of learning, or navigation time estimates) on each trial for all spatial tasks. Preference for allocentric or egocentric navigation strategies was also measured. Overall, performance was poorer and confidence in performance was lower for older adults than younger adults. In most spatial domains, the absolute and relative accuracy of metacognitive judgments was equivalent for both age groups. However, age differences in monitoring accuracy (specifically relative accuracy) emerged in spatial tasks involving navigation. Confidence in navigating for a target location also mediated age differences in allocentric navigation strategy use. These findings suggest that with the possible exception of navigation monitoring, spatial cognition may be spared from age-related decline even though spatial cognition itself is impaired in older age.
Project description:Compared to young adults, older adults are more susceptible to endorse false memories as genuine and exhibit higher confidence in their decisions to do so. While most studies to date have addressed this phenomenon in the context of episodic memory, the literature on age-differences in false recognition during short-term memory (STM) is scarce. Hence, the present study investigated age-related differences in the rate of false alarms (FA) and subsequent confidence judgments in STM. Thirty-three young and thirty-three older adults performed a visual short-term recognition memory task. In each trial, participants encoded a single abstract object, then made a "same" or "different" decision on a subsequent test, followed by a confidence judgment. We found significant age-related differences in performance as measured by the sensitivity index (d'), but not in the rate of FAs. Older adults were more confident in their erroneous recognition decisions than younger adults. The results are discussed in the context of age-differences in monitoring and associative processes.
Project description:Valuable items are often remembered better than items that are less valuable by both older and younger adults, but older adults typically show deficits in binding. Here, we examine whether value affects the quality of recognition memory and the binding of incidental details to valuable items. In Experiment 1, participants learned English words each associated with a point-value they earned for correct recognition with the goal of maximizing their score. In Experiment 2, value was manipulated by presenting items that were either congruent or incongruent with an imagined state of physiological need (e.g., hunger). In Experiment 1, point-value was associated with enhanced recollection in both age groups. Memory for the color associated with the word was in fact reduced for high-value recollected items compared with low-value recollected items, suggesting value selectively enhances binding of task-relevant details. In Experiment 2, memory for learned images was enhanced by value in both age groups. However, value differentially enhanced binding of an imagined context to the item in younger and older adults, with a strong trend for increased binding in younger adults only. These findings suggest that value enhances episodic encoding in both older and younger adults but that binding of associated details may be reduced for valuable items compared to less valuable items, particularly in older adults. (PsycINFO Database Record
Project description:Item and associative recognition for pictures and words with college-age young adults and 60-75-year-old adults were examined in the experiment reported in this article. The diffusion model (Ratcliff & McKoon, 2008) was used to extract estimates of components of processing from the empirical values of accuracy and correct and error response time distributions. The model fit the empirical data well for both picture and word stimuli. Results showed that boundary separation was larger and nondecision time was longer for older relative to young adults. Drift rates were not lower for older adults for item recognition but they were for associative recognition, indicating that the richer structure of pictures did not provide an enhanced ability to form associations for the older adults. There were also significant correlations among the components of processing across the tasks of the experiment, suggesting common factors, but participants' accuracy and response times did not significantly correlate within and across the tasks.
Project description:Existing literature suggests that feedback could effectively reduce false memories in younger adults. However, it is unclear whether memory performance in older adults also might be affected by feedback. The current study tested the hypothesis that older adults can use immediate feedback to adjust their memory strategy, similar to younger adults, but after feedback is removed, older adults may not be able to maintain using the memory strategy. Older adults will display more false memories than younger adults due to a reduction in attentional resources. In Study 1, both younger and older adults adjusted gist processing and item-specific processing biases based on the feedback given (i.e., biased and objective feedback). In Study 2 after the feedback was removed, only younger adults with full attention were able to maintain the feedback-shaped memory strategy; whereas, both younger adults with divided attention and older adults had increased false memories after feedback was removed. The findings suggest that environmental support helps older adults as well as younger adults to adopt a memory strategy that demands high attentional resources, but when the support is removed, older adults can no longer maintain such a strategy.
Project description:Visual short-term memory (VSTM) ability falls throughout the life span in healthy adults. Using a continuous report task, in a large, population-based sample, we first confirmed that this decline affects the quality and quantity of reported memories as well as knowledge of which item went where. Visual and sensorimotor precision also worsened with advancing age, but this did not account for the reduced memory performance. We then considered two strategies that older individuals might be able to adopt, to offset these memory declines: the use of contextual encoding, and metacognitive monitoring of performance. Context and metacognitive awareness were both associated with significantly better performance, however these effects did not interact with age in our sample. This suggests that older adults retain their capacity to boost memory performance through attention to external context and monitoring of their performance. Strategies that focus on taking advantage of these preserved abilities may therefore help to maintain VSTM performance with advancing age. The article reports on analysis of the Cambridge Centre for Ageing and Neuroscience (Cam-CAN) data. (PsycINFO Database Record