When Gist and Familiarity Collide: Evidence from False Recognition in Younger and Older Adults
Journals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
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© 2018 The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved. Objectives: Aging is associated with decreased recollection required to offset misleading effects of familiarity, as well as an increased mnemonic reliance on gist-based over detail-based information. We tested the novel hypothesis that age-related decrements in overriding familiarity can be eliminated under conditions in which gist-based information facilitates retrieval. Method: Twenty-seven younger adults and 27 older adults viewed scenes from two categories in an incidental encoding phase. In a recognition phase, old scenes were intermixed with new scenes from the studied categories and an unstudied category, with each new scene reappearing after 4, 18, or 48 intervening scenes. Participants were to respond "yes"to old scenes, and "no"to new scenes, including their repetitions. Results: Despite encoding the scenes similarly, older adults made more false endorsements of new and repeated new scenes from studied categories. Both groups, however, were equally unlikely to falsely recognize new and repeated new scenes from the unstudied category. Discussion: When helpful gist and misleading familiarity collide, gist wins, and eliminates age-related increases in false recognition.