Research indicates associative and strategic deficits mediate age related deficits in memory, whereas simple associative processes are independent of strategic processing and strategic processes mediate resistance to interference. The present study showed age-related deficits in a contingency learning task, although older participants' resistance to interference was not disproportionately affected. Recognition memory predicted discrimination, whereas general cognitive ability predicted resistance to interference, suggesting differentiation between associative and strategic processes in learning and memory, and age declines in associative processes. Older participants' generalisation of associative strength from existing to novel stimulus-response associations was consistent with elemental learning theories, whereas configural models predicted younger participants' responses. This is consistent with associative deficits and reliance on item-level representations in memory during later life.
- associative learning
- cognitive ageing