Temporal Memory for Remote Events in Healthy Aging and Dementia

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Abstract

Memory for the temporal order of term of office of 7 past U.S. presidents was examined in healthy older adults and individuals in the early stages of dementia of the Alzheimer type (DAT). Among those individuals who recognized all 7 presidents, bow-shaped serial-position effects for temporal order similar to those seen in studies of short-term memory were observed for both the healthy group and the groups of individuals with dementia. Accuracy of temporal ordering decreased with increasing dementia severity. Thus, DAT affects 1 aspect of “old” memory (i.e.,temporal information) even in the very early stages of the disease. Theoretical models of serial-position effects need to address remote memory as well as short-term memory.

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