Self-referencing enhances recollection in both young and older adults.
journal contributionposted on 08.01.2017, 00:00 by E.D. Leshikar, M.R. Dulas, A. Duarte
Processing information in relation to the self enhances subsequent item recognition in both young and older adults, and further, enhances recollection at least in the young. Because older adults experience recollection memory deficits it is unknown whether self-referencing improves recollection in older adults. We examined recollection benefits from self-referential encoding in older and younger adults and further examined the quality and quantity of episodic details facilitated by self-referencing. We further investigated the influence of valence on recollection given prior findings of age group differences in emotional memory (i.e. “positivity effects”). Across 2 experiments, young and older adults processed positive and negative adjectives either for self-relevance or for semantic meaning. We found that self-referencing, relative to semantic encoding, increased recollection memory in both age groups. In Experiment 1, both groups remembered proportionally more negative than positive items when adjectives were processed semantically; however, when adjectives were processed self-referentially, both groups exhibited evidence of better recollection for the positive items, inconsistent with a positivity effect in aging. In Experiment 2, both groups reported more episodic details associated with recollected items, as measured by a memory characteristic questionnaire (MCQ), for the self-reference relative to the semantic condition. Overall, these data suggest that self-referencing leads to detail-rich memory representations reflected in higher rates of recollection across age.