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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Memory changes across the adult lifespan: formation of gains and losses Mori, Monica Sachiko


This experiment investigated memory changes across the adult lifespan and some factors that might be associated with these changes. Adult participants of all ages (16 to 83 years old) were asked to orally describe scenic color photographs, and then following a delay, to re-describe these pictures from memory. Given information is objective, physical objects and their attributes that are depicted in a target picture, whereas beyond information is subjective, personal experiences and inferences that are not depicted in a target picture per se but are associated with a target picture. Chapter 3 examined the content of these picture descriptions for the amount of given and beyond information that was encoded and retrieved about target pictures. The results indicated an age-related decline in memory for given information and preserved memory for beyond information. Chapter 4 examined the relationship between perceptual and verbal ability and memory for given and beyond information. Perceptual ability was assessed by self-report measures of auditory and visual ability and verbal ability was measured by a standardized test. The results indicated that an age-related improvement in verbal ability, but not an age-related decline in perceptual ability, was related to memory for given and beyond information. Chapter 5 explored age-related changes in memory for feminine and masculine information across the adult female lifespan. Feminine and masculine information is information that would be considered exclusively relevant to young women and men, respectively. The results indicated an age-related increase in memory for feminine information and no age-related change in memory for masculine information. The divergent age-related changes in memory for given and beyond information and for feminine and masculine information were interpreted in terms of a developmental approach to schema theory and the lifespan psychology notions of selective optimization with compensation and loss in the service of growth. The present study suggests an integration between the domains of personality and cognitive psychology as one avenue for future research that could lead to a more complete understanding of memory and aging.

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