Age-related increases in false recognition: the role of perceptual and conceptual similarity

Pidgeon, L. M. and Morcom, A. M. (2014) Age-related increases in false recognition: the role of perceptual and conceptual similarity. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 6, 283. (doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2014.00283) (PMID:25368576) (PMCID:PMC4201095)

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Older adults (OAs) are more likely to falsely recognize novel events than young adults, and recent behavioral and neuroimaging evidence points to a reduced ability to distinguish overlapping information due to decline in hippocampal pattern separation. However, other data suggest a critical role for semantic similarity. Koutstaal et al. [(2003) false recognition of abstract vs. common objects in older and younger adults: testing the semantic categorization account, J. Exp. Psychol. Learn. 29, 499–510] reported that OAs were only vulnerable to false recognition of items with pre-existing semantic representations. We replicated Koutstaal et al.’s (2003) second experiment and examined the influence of independently rated perceptual and conceptual similarity between stimuli and lures. At study, young and OAs judged the pleasantness of pictures of abstract (unfamiliar) and concrete (familiar) items, followed by a surprise recognition test including studied items, similar lures, and novel unrelated items. Experiment 1 used dichotomous “old/new” responses at test, while in Experiment 2 participants were also asked to judge lures as “similar,” to increase explicit demands on pattern separation. In both experiments, OAs showed a greater increase in false recognition for concrete than abstract items relative to the young, replicating Koutstaal et al.’s (2003) findings. However, unlike in the earlier study, there was also an age-related increase in false recognition of abstract lures when multiple similar images had been studied. In line with pattern separation accounts of false recognition, OAs were more likely to misclassify concrete lures with high and moderate, but not low degrees of rated similarity to studied items. Results are consistent with the view that OAs are particularly susceptible to semantic interference in recognition memory, and with the possibility that this reflects age-related decline in pattern separation.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Laura M. Pidgeon was supported by a PhD studentship from the University of Edinburgh Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology (CCACE), part of the cross-council Lifelong Health and Wellbeing Initiative, Grant number G0700704/84698. Alexa M. Morcom is a member of CCACE and was supported by an RCUK Academic Fellowship at the University of Edinburgh.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Morcom, Dr Alexa and Lyall, Dr Laura
Authors: Pidgeon, L. M., and Morcom, A. M.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Journal Name:Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience
Publisher:Frontiers Media
ISSN (Online):1663-4365
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2014 Pidgeon and Morcom
First Published:First published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience 6: 283
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons license

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