A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words? Not When It Comes to Associative Memory of Older Adults

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Properties of the binding mechanism in associative recognition were studied by examining the influence of the pictorial superiority effect on the age-related associative deficit. The informative aspect of associative recognition is the recollection of the pairing. Previous findings indicate that recollection is susceptible to aging and that pictorial presentation can enhance recollection and facilitate associative recognition. Pictorial presentation was found to facilitate item recognition by both young and older adults, associative recognition by young adults, but not associative recognition by older adults. Our findings support the hypothesis that the binding mechanism in associative recognition is content independent. Theoretical implications are discussed.

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