Age also affects certain types of memories, particularly the memories that require the effective functioning of the regions of the brain involved in the creation of memory. With impairment in the functioning of any region of the brain or connection between the regions, this leads to declines in memory as people grow older. Evidence is shown in one study that compared the differences in the recognition memory of younger and older individuals through a free recognition task and recall task.
The free recognition task involves going through a list of words and memorizing them while the recall task involves the selection of the items included in the free recognition task from a list including additional words to distract the participants. The results showed that there was no difference in the performance of younger and older participants in the free recognition task but there was a difference in performance in the recall task, with the younger age group performing better than the older age group.
(Lou & Craik, 2008) The explanation is that when the memory activity required self-initiated retrieval process there is a difference between the capability of younger and older people to retrieve information. Another study considered the effect of age on response time by studying recognition memory of college students and an older group above 60 years of age by using decision-making activity. The results showed that there was a significant difference in the speed of response of the older age group and slight difference in accuracy.
This reflects the slow-down in the cognitive processing of individuals as they age due to concurrent decline in brain processing. However, accuracy is not necessarily impaired. (Ratcliff, Thapar & McKoon, 2004) Nevertheless, in situations that require immediacy of decision-making and response, older people are at a disadvantage because of slower processing of recognition memory. Conclusion Our memory declines as we age. The neurological explanation for this is the deterioration of the regions of the brain responsible for creating memory, particularly the atrophy of nerve fibers responsible for connecting the three regions.
The deterioration occurs together with the natural ageing process and/or age-related pathological factors such as the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, albeit the extent of effect of ageing on memory depends on individual differences. The cognitive explanation for this is the effect of age and the corresponding degradation of regions of the brain involved in memory creation on the psychological processes of the brain and creation of different types of memories. The ability to retrieve information declines and the speed of storing and retrieving information slows down as people age. The retrieval of information and the speed of storing and retrieving information are key aspects of memory.
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