Age-related memory deficits may result from attending to too much information (inhibition deficit) and/or storing too little information (binding deficit). The present study evaluated the inhibition and binding accounts by exploiting a situation in which deficits of inhibition should benefit relational memory binding. Older adults directed more viewing toward abrupt onsets in scenes compared with younger adults under instructions to ignore any such onsets, providing evidence for age-related inhibitory deficits, which were ameliorated with additional practice. Subsequently, objects that served as abrupt onsets underwent changes in their spatial relations. Despite successful inhibition of the onsets, eye movements of younger adults were attracted to manipulated objects. In contrast, the eye movements of older adults, who directed more viewing to the late onsets compared with younger adults, were not attracted toward manipulated regions. Similar differences between younger and older adults in viewing of manipulated regions were observed under free viewing conditions. These findings provide evidence for concurrent inhibition and binding deficits in older adults and demonstrate that age-related declines in inhibitory processing do not lead to enhanced relational memory for extraneous information.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Geriatrics and Gerontology
- eye movement monitoring