Preserved Criterion Flexibility in Item Recognition in Older Adults

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Young and older adults studied a list of words and then took 2 successive tests of item recognition, an easy test consisting of studied words and unrelated lures and a hard test pitting studied words against semantically related lures. When the easy test was first, participants in both age groups adopted a more stringent criterion on the harder test. When the hard test was first, no criterion shift was seen. Older adults can assess the consequences for accuracy of maintaining a lenient criterion when discrimination becomes more difficult and can take appropriate action to control errors under these conditions.

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