Is there an Increase in False Memory Errors in Older Adults when a Lure is Meaningfully as opposed to Visually Related to the Studied Items?
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This study examines the effect of age on false recognition error. Various lure conditions (critical, related and font-only) were examined to determine which resulted in the greatest rate of error. The test phase involved words with a strong semantic relation to study phase words, weaker semantically related words and words which had no semantic link: purely a visual similarity. A main interest of the study was to provide evidence for the Semantic Categorisation Account, which proposes that older adults will show less of an increase in false memory compared to a younger group, when the lure is not semantically linked. Unusual looking fonts were used as visual stimuli. The Deese Roediger-McDermott Illusion was used for the critical lure stimuli. Two age groups, young and old, were tested. Unexpectedly, results failed to show a pattern that could relate to the Semantic Account. Older adults were not found to have an increase in false memory errors in the critical lure condition, however there was significant increase in the font-only condition. There was a significant change in the difference between the age groups, compared to the font-only and critical conditions. However, this change showed the font-only condition to cause an increase in the difference, which does not match the hypothesis. Separate from age, there was a higher proportion of false recognition errors for the critical lure group than the font-only group. There was also an increase in the response time in the older group and they had a slightly decreased correct recognition of ‘old’ words.