Memory impairment in aging may seem evident from the forgetfulness of the aged and their poor performance on memory tests, but the amelioration or elimination of apparent memory deficits in the aged when they are induced to process efficiently has shown that most, if not all, of their apparent memory deficits are due to inefficient processing, reduced processing capacity, or other cognitive factors that can limit memory. To identify genuine memory impairment in the aged, it is therefore necessary to show that their memory is reduced even after they have carried out the same efficient processing as younger adults. When a search procedure was used to control processing for effective cued recall, younger adults (mean age = 44 years) and some older adults (mean age = 81 years) recalled all or nearly all 48 items, indicating that this procedure results in effective cued recall by older as well as younger adults. Decreased recall by other nondemented older adults even after they carried out the same effective processing showed genuine memory impairment not due to other cognitive deficits. This provides an empirical basis for the diagnosis of “age-associated memory impairment” (AAMI) in aging and shows that genuine memory impairment does occur in the aged. The identification of genuine memory impairment in the aged should be useful in diagnosis of AAMI and in selection of patients for specific pharmacologic testing and treatment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology