Word-list forgetting in young and elderly subjects: Evidence for age-related decline in transferring information from transitory to permanent memory condition

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This study aimed at investigating different memory components involved in word list forgetting by young and elderly healthy individuals. For this purpose, we analyzed in 55 young (age range 20-35) and 50 aged (age range 60-80) healthy subjects the memory decay passing from the fifth immediate to the delayed recall trial of the Rey's Auditory Learning task as a function of the position of the words in the list. Young and elderly groups displayed the same forgetting rate for words recalled from the primacy and mid-list tracts of the serial position curve. However, memory loss for the recency positions was disproportionately larger in the elderly than in the young group. These data demonstrate that aged subjects rely on short-lived memory processes in immediate recall of terminal list items more extensively than young subjects and, as a consequence, a larger proportion of words become inaccessible to them following a delay.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-166
Number of pages12
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1997


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Neuroscience(all)

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