Associative interference in older and younger adults.

Healthy older adults are more challenged by associative interference than younger adults, but prior results could have been due to differences in list discrimination ability. We used a procedure that assessed interference without requiring knowledge of list membership to test the hypothesis that older adults (60—74 years old) would show more pronounced effects of associative interference in AB/AC learning. Despite our use of a self-paced, rather than timed, study procedure, older adults performed at lower levels of accuracy than younger adults, replicating the well established associative deficit in aging (Naveh-Benjamin & Mayr, 2018). Older participants also displayed more proactive interference on average. Older participants’ memory for AB and AC showed statistical independence, resembling earlier data from younger participants with a timed study procedure (Burton, Lek, & Caplan, 2017). However, younger participants, with the current self-paced procedure, produced a facilitating relationship between memory for AB and AC. Thus, younger participants not only resolved, but reversed associative interference. List discrimination could not explain these age differences. Taken together, these results extend the associative deficit in aging, finding increased susceptibility to associative proactive interference and less resolution of associative interference in older than younger participants, even when given the opportunity to compensate during self-paced study. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)