Aging and the Priming of Newly-Learned Associations

Document Type

Article - Merrimack Access Only

Publication Title

Developmental Psychology


American Psychological Association

Publication Date


Abstract/ Summary

In each of 2 experiments, 32 young (aged 18–25 yrs) and 32 elderly (aged 63–79 yrs) adults studied 36 sentences of the form NOUN1-VERB-NOUN2. They then made item-recognition judgments regarding whether single nouns had occurred in the sentences. After 2 or more presentations of each sentence, both young and elderly Ss showed equivalent priming between the nouns within the sentences; a noun was recognized faster when it was tested immediately after the other noun from the same sentence than when it was tested following a noun from a different sentence. After only 1 presentation of each sentence, young Ss showed priming but elderly Ss did not. Under all study conditions, young Ss were superior to the elderly in cued recall of the same sentences. It is argued that priming provides a sensitive measure of what is stored in memory and so will be useful for studies of aging.