The Interaction of Emotion and Cognition in Memory Biases across the Life Span
Much research has looked into the various information processing changes that occur as we age. Most cognitive processes decline with age, while emotion regulation may remain intact. This study attempts to better understand biases that occur in recognition memory as we age. Socioemotional selectivity theory suggests that older adults attend to the positive valence more than the negative valence due to a shift in time perspective and an increased motivation to capitalize on more emotionally satisfying experiences. Fuzzy trace theory posits that we have two information processing streams: the gist stream, which captures the overall meaning of the information, and the verbatim stream that takes in the details. In this study, recognition memory was assessed for valenced (positive and negative) as well as sentence-type (verbatim or gist) processing in order to study the combined effects of emotion and cognition in memory across the life span. Older adults were found to remember more positive gist statements than any other type suggesting abias towards the positive valence and gist type processing. The results show that both of the above theories combine to illuminate what type of information older adults attend to, process and retain.
memory biases; gist; emotion regulation; aging
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