Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Younger people have 'high definition' memories

Date:
January 14, 2014
Source:
Springer Science+Business Media
Summary:
It's not that younger people are able to remember more than older people. Their memories seem better because they are able to retrieve them in higher definition. So says a researcher, in a study that sheds light on how differences in the behavioral and neural activity of younger and older adults influence the different generations’ ability to store and recall memories.

Researchers looked at age-related differences on how memories are stored and retrieved. It's not that younger people are able to remember more than older people. Their memories seem better because they are able to retrieve them in higher definition.
Credit: Frog 974 / Fotolia

Researchers looked at age-related differences on how memories are stored and retrieved. It's not that younger people are able to remember more than older people. Their memories seem better because they are able to retrieve them in higher definition. So says Philip Ko of Vanderbilt University in the US, in a study that sheds light on how differences in the behavioral and neural activity of younger and older adults influence the different generations' ability to store and recall memories.

The findings appear in the journal Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, published by Springer.

Under the mentorship of Dr. Brandon Ally, Ko led the research team to focus on visual working memory, a person's ability to briefly retain a limited amount of visual information in the absence of visual stimuli. Their examination of why this function is reduced during the course of healthy aging took the multiple stages of encoding, maintenance, and the retrieval of memorized information into account.

They ran 11 older adults of around 67 years of age and 13 younger adults of approximately 23 years of age through a task called 'visual change detection.' This task consisted of viewing two, three or four colored dots and memorizing their appearance. These dots disappeared, and then after a few seconds the participants were presented with a single dot appearing in one of the memorized colors or a new color. The accuracy of their response ('same' or 'different') was considered to reflect how well they memorized the colors. This accuracy of response is referred to as 'behavioral measure.' Electroencephalographic data was also collected from the participants as they performed the task for a neural measure of their memory capacity.

Dr. Ko found that while behavioral measures indicated a lower capacity in older adults than younger adults to memorize items, the neural measure of memory capacity was very similar in both groups. In other words, during the maintenance stage, both groups stored the same number of items. The study is the first to show that the behavioral and electrophysiological correlates in the working memory capacity of older adults can be dissociated.

The researchers suggest, however, that older adults store the items at a lower resolution than younger adults, resulting in impaired recollection. The consequence of these differences in resolution may be apparent during retrieval from visual working memory. Unlike older adults, younger adults may be able to use perceptual implicit memory, a different kind of visual memory, to give them a 'boost' when they are trying to retrieve the stored information.

"We don't know why older adults perform poorly when their neural activity suggests their memory capacity is intact, but we have two leads," Ko said. "First, further analysis of this current dataset and other studies from our laboratory suggest that older adults retrieve memories differently than younger adults. Second, there is emerging evidence from other labs suggesting that the quality of older adults' memories is poorer than younger adults. In other words, while older adults might store the same number of items, their memory of each item is 'fuzzier' than that of younger adults."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Springer Science+Business Media. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Philip C. Ko, Bryant Duda, Erin Hussey, Emily Mason, Robert J. Molitor, Geoffrey F. Woodman, Brandon A. Ally. Understanding age-related reductions in visual working memory capacity: Examining the stages of change detection. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 2014; DOI: 10.3758/s13414-013-0585-z

Cite This Page:

Springer Science+Business Media. "Younger people have 'high definition' memories." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140114091842.htm>.
Springer Science+Business Media. (2014, January 14). Younger people have 'high definition' memories. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140114091842.htm
Springer Science+Business Media. "Younger people have 'high definition' memories." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140114091842.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins