Can DRYAD Explain Age-Related Associative Memory Deficits?

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A recent interesting theoretical account of aging and memory judgments, the DRYAD (density of representations yields age-related deficits; Benjamin, 2010; Benjamin, Diaz, Matzen, & Johnson, 2012), attributes the extensive findings of disproportional age-related deficits in memory for source, context, and associations, to a global decline in memory fidelity. It is suggested that this global deficit, possibly due to a decline in attentional processes, is moderated by weak representation of contextual information to result in disproportional age-related declines. In the current article, we evaluate the DRYAD model, comparing it to specific age-related deficits theories, in particular, the ADH (associative deficit hypothesis, Naveh-Benjamin, 2000). We question some of the main assumptions/hypotheses of DRYAD in light of data reported in the literature, and we directly assess the role of attention in age-related deficits by manipulations of divided attention and of the instructions regarding what to pay attention to in 2 experiments (one from the literature and a new one). The results of these experiments fit the predictions of the ADH and do not support the main assumption/hypotheses of DRYAD.

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