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Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 26, Issue 5, pp 1529–1547 | Cite as

Age-related differences in recall and recognition: a meta-analysis

  • Stephen RhodesEmail author
  • Nathaniel R. Greene
  • Moshe Naveh-Benjamin
Theoretical Review
  • 322 Downloads

Abstract

Relative to younger adults, older adults tend to perform more poorly on tests of both free recall and item recognition memory. The age difference in performance is typically larger for recall tasks relative to those involving recognition. However, there have been reports of comparable age-related differences in free recall and item recognition performance. Further, a differential performance cost does not necessarily mean that processes involved in recall are specifically affected by age. Here we present a meta-analysis of 36 articles reporting 89 direct comparisons of free recall and item recognition in younger and older groups of participants. Standardized effect sizes reveal that age differences are larger for recall tasks (Hedges’ g = 0.89, 95% confidence intervals [0.75, 1.03]) than for recognition tasks (0.54, [0.37, 0.72]). Further, Brinley analyses of the data suggest that distinct functions are needed to relate younger and older performance for the two tasks. These functions differ in intercept pointing to a disproportionate age difference in recall relative to recognition. This is in line with theories of memory and aging which posit specific deficits in processes related to search and retrieval from memory.

Keywords

Recall Recognition Episodic memory Cognitive aging 

Notes

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Copyright information

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rotman Research Institute, BaycrestTorontoCanada
  2. 2.University of MissouriColumbiaUSA

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