LEARNING OBJECTIVES

• What age differences are there in prospective memory?

• What are some factors that help preserve memory as we grow older?

T

yler, an elderly man of 80, has been exercising his memory abilities since he reached his 60th birth­day. He has made sure to read voraciously, has done his crossword puzzles religiously, and has kept up on current events. At a recent family gathering, it was quite evident that such behavior paid off. In a game of

trivial pursuit, he was the ultimate winner. However, when his grandson told him nonstop about a car he wanted to buy, Tyler later had trouble recalling all of the details.

As noted at the beginning of this chapter, mem­ory is so integral to our everyday life that we take it for granted. In the case of Tyler, using his memory of previously studied knowledge was extremely impor­tant in participating in family games. However, he still had trouble remembering the details of recently learned information. This difference in memory abil­ity has been the focus of a proliferation of research on age differences in memory in context or how memory operates in everyday life (Hertzog & Dunlosky, 1996; Park & Brown, 2001). This research is extremely important for three reasons. First, it may shed some light on the generalizability of findings based on lab­oratory tasks such as word-list recall. Second, new or alternative variables that affect performance could be uncovered, for example, factors that enhance memory functioning in older adults could be identi­fied. Third, research on everyday memory may force us to reconceptualize memory itself.