They Can Take a Hint: Older Adults Effectively Integrate Memory Cues During Recognition

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Abstract

Adaptively biasing recognition judgments in light of environmental cues improves net accuracy. Based on previous work suggesting that strategically shifting biases on a trial-wise basis should be cognitively demanding, the authors predicted that older adults would not achieve the same accuracy benefits from environmental cues as the young. However, despite showing clear declines in cognitive control as indexed by complex span, older adults demonstrated similar accuracy gains and similar alterations of response probabilities with cues of 75% reliability (Experiment 1) and more complex cues spanning 3 levels of reliability (Experiment 2). Despite preserved gains in accuracy, older adults clearly demonstrated disproportionate slowing that was specific to trials in which cues were invalid. This slowing may reflect impairments in behavioral inhibition that could impinge upon accuracy were responding increasingly sped and future work manipulating response speed and measures of inhibition may yield further insights.

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