False Memories and Normal Aging: Links Between Inhibitory Capacities and Monitoring Processes

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Empirical evidence suggests an increased production of false memories with advancing age. The activation-monitoring theory proposes that strategic monitoring processes influence the probability of false recall in the DRM paradigm. In the present study, we examined the hypothesis that a low level of inhibition may impair the efficient use of monitoring processes during information retrieval and thus increase the production of false memories in aging. Accordingly, we conducted a study in which older adults with low or high levels of inhibition performed a standard DRM task or an inclusion DRM task that disables monitoring processes. The results indicated that low inhibitory capacities were associated with fewer correct recalls and increased production of critical lures (false memories), suggesting difficulties in using monitoring processes at the time of retrieval. Our findings also showed that the relationship between Age and the production of critical lures in a standard DRM task is mediated by Inhibition. These results are interpreted as suggesting that inhibitory abilities may partly be linked to the impairment of monitoring processes in the elderly.

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