Older adults are more likely to have destination memory failures – forgetting who they've shared or not shared information with, according to a new study led by Baycrest's Rotman Research Institute.
It's the kind of memory faux pas that can lead to awkward or embarrassing social situations and even miscommunication in the doctor's office. Ironically, after making these memory errors older adults remain highly confident in their false beliefs.
The study appears online, ahead of print publication, in the Online First Section of Psychology and Aging.
"What we've found is that older adults tend to experience more destination amnesia than younger adults," said lead investigator and cognitive scientist Dr. Nigel Gopie, who led the study with internationally-renowned experts in memory and attention, Drs. Fergus Craik and Lynn Hasher.
"Destination amnesia is characterized by falsely believing you've told someone something, such as believing you've told your daughter about needing a ride to an appointment, when you actually had told a neighbour."
Why are older adults more prone to destination memory failures? The ability to focus and pay attention declines with age, so older adults use up most of their attentional resources on the telling of information and don't properly encode the context (ie. who they are speaking to) for later recall.
"Older adults are additionally highly confident, compared to younger adults, that they have never told people particular things when they actually had," added Dr. Gopie. "This over-confidence presumably causes older adults to repeat information to people."
A critical finding in the study is that destination memory is more vulnerable to age-related decline than source memory. Source memory is the ability to recall which person told you certain information.
In the research, 40 students from the University of Toronto (ages 18 - 30) and 40 healthy older adults from the community (ages 60 - 83) were divided into two experimental groups. The first experiment measured destination memory accuracy and confidence: requiring the individual to read out loud 50 interesting facts to 50 celebrities (whose faces appear on a computer screen), one at a time, and then remember which fact they told to which famous person. For example, "a dime has 118 ridges around it" and I told this fact to Oprah Winfrey.
The second experiment measured source memory accuracy and confidence: requiring the individual to remember which famous person told them a particular fact. For example, Tom Cruise told me that "the average person takes 12 minutes to fall asleep".
In the first experiment for destination memory accuracy, older adults' performance was 21% worse than their younger counterparts.
In the second experiment for source memory accuracy, older and younger adults performed about the same (60% for young, 50% for old) in recollecting which famous face told them a particular fact.
The study was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, U.S. National Institute on Aging, and a Baycrest Jack and Rita Catherall Award.
The study follows an earlier one published last year in Psychological Science by Dr. Gopie (Baycrest's Rotman Research Institute) and Dr. Colin M. MacLeod (University of Waterloo). That one looked at disrupted destination memory in a single age group – university-aged students.
A health-sciences centre affiliated with the University of Toronto, Baycrest's internationally-renowned scientific research and clinical practice is dedicated to transforming the journey of aging.
Kelly Connelly | EurekAlert!
Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Oxygen loss in the coastal Baltic Sea is “unprecedentedly severe”
05.07.2018 | European Geosciences Union
A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.
The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.07.2018 | Information Technology
20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences