LEARNING OBJECTIVES

• What evidence is there for age differences in encoding?

• What age differences have been observed in retrieval?

• What are the relative contributions of encoding and retrieval in explaining age differences

in performance? How does a neuroscience

perspective help us understand these contributions?

• How does automatic retrieval affect age differences in memory?

• What age differences have been observed in processing misinformation as true?

C

ynthia is an elderly woman sitting on a jury for the first time. The crime is a burglary. An eyewit­ness speculates about whether the defendant had a crowbar given that someone told him that there was a crowbar at the crime scene. The judge announces to the jury to disregard that statement. It is from an unreliable source. Back in deliberation, Cynthia has trouble remembering if evidence of a crowbar in the hands of the defendant was to be disregarded or to be believed.

We have seen that older and younger adults differ in how well they perform on some memory tasks. Why do these age differences exist? Is it that older adults are poorer at getting information into and out of memory? Given these age differences, how can we explain the fact that older adults’ memory can operate just fine in an everyday context? Is it related to how efficiently they manipulate information in working memory? Or does it involve the source of the information, as is the case with Cynthia?