Use it or lose it? SES mitigates age-related decline in a recency/recognition task

Daniela Czernochowski, Monica Fabiani, David Friedman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An important goal of aging research is to determine factors leading to individual differences that might compensate for some of the deleterious effects of aging on cognition. To determine whether socio-economic status (SES) plays a role in mitigating age-related decrements in the recollection of contextual details, we categorized older participants into low- and high-SES groups. Event-related potentials (ERPs) and behavioral data were recorded in a picture memory task involving recency and recognition judgments. Young, old-low and old-high SES groups did not differ in recognition performance. However, on recency judgments, old-low subjects performed at chance, whereas old-high subjects did not differ significantly from young adults. Consistent with their preserved recency performance, a long-duration frontal negativity was significantly larger for recency compared to recognition trials in the ERPs of the old-high SES group only. These data suggest that older adults with higher SES levels can use strategies to compensate for the adverse effects of aging in complex source memory tasks by recruiting additional neural resources apparently not required by the young.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)945-958
Number of pages14
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2008


  • Aging
  • Cognition
  • Event-related brain potentials (ERPs)
  • Frontal negative slow wave
  • Item memory
  • Recency judgments
  • Recognition judgments
  • Socio-economic status (SES)
  • Source memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Aging
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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