Exploring age-related differences in declarative memory retrieval using naturalistic paradigms

Melega, Greta (2023) Exploring age-related differences in declarative memory retrieval using naturalistic paradigms. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This thesis explores the nuances of the age-related differences in declarative memory recall, delving beyond the traditional characterisation of ageing as a process primarily marked by episodic memory decline and semantic knowledge preservation. The three experiments reported in the thesis manipulated retrieval instructions targeting episodic and semantic memories and examined participants’ narratives by analysing the production of intermediate forms of declarative memories, particularly personal semantics and gist representations. The paradigms adopted across the three experiments involved narrative-like encoding by targeting personal events (Chapters 2 and 3) or adopting fictional stories (Chapter 4), followed by narrative-like retrieval, asking participants to remember and verbally describe these stories. In Chapter 2, the Semantic Autobiographical Interview (SAI) was introduced as a novel approach, enabling the exploration of episodic, personal semantic, and general semantic memory recall. Chapter 3 extended the exploration by investigating participants' adaptability in memory recall under changing task instructions. Participants were instructed to switch between the recall of unique and repeated events or to recall these memories in separate blocks. Chapter 4 introduced a naturalistic laboratory-based study involving video-based recall over varying time intervals, to investigate the emergence of gist in ageing and the consistency of recall over time. Across the three experiments, two consistent findings emerged: when elaborating autobiographical and fictional narratives, participants tended to recall a mixture of perceptual and contextually specific details but also gist-like and schematic information; older adults particularly preferred personal semantic knowledge (Chapters 2 and 3) and gist-like representations (Chapter 4) over more finer-grain details when recalling personal and fictional past experiences. Overall, this thesis uncovers a nuanced picture of age-related differences in declarative memory recall. It highlights the preference for personal semantic knowledge and gist-like representations in older adults' memories, shedding light on the interplay between different memory types and narrative preferences in ageing.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2024 09:50
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2024 09:50
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/94360

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