It is widely assumed that older adults suffer a deficit in the psychological processes that underlie remembering of contextual or source information. This conclusion is based in large part on empirical interactions, including disordinal ones, that reveal differential effects of manipulations of memory strength on recognition in young and old subjects. This article lays out an alternative theory that takes as a starting point the overwhelming evidence from the psychometric literature that the effects of age on memory share a single mediating influence. Thus, the theory assumes no differences between younger and older subjects other than a global difference in memory fidelity-that is, the older subjects are presumed to have less valid representations of events and objects than are young subjects. The theory is articulated through 3 major assumptions and implemented in a computational model, DRYAD, to simulate fundamental results in the literature on aging and recognition, including the very interactions taken to imply selective impairment in older people. The theoretical perspective presented here allows for a critical examination of the widely held belief that aging entails the selective disruption of particular memory processes.
- Process dissociation
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