Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




The role of semantic knowledge and familiarity on retrieval processes were investigated in a test of the associative deficit hypothesis (ADH), and the data were interpreted from the perspectives of fuzzy trace theory and source monitoring errors (Naveh-Benjamin, 2000). Younger and older adults (N=60) studied pairs of words for two recognition tests – an item test, for recognition of individual words, and an associative test, for recognition of word pairs. In the associative test, four word pairs were presented with a forced-choice response requirement (4AFC; Patterson & Hertzog, 2010). In addition to the studied, intact cue-target pair, three cue-target pairs were presented as lures. A similar framework was employed in the item test, but used individual words instead of pairs. The associative deficit hypothesis was not supported: Older and younger adults had comparable recognition accuracy for items and associates. However, the types of errors made in the associative test revealed significant age differences. Older adults had significantly higher false alarm rates (FAR) to recombined pairs compared to younger adults, and younger and older adults were more likely to make recombined false alarms than other types of false alarm. Additionally, older adults were more susceptible to making intact related false alarms than recombined related false alarm rate. Responses in the item test did not vary by false alarm type nor by age group. These results demonstrate the importance of familiarity in age- based associative memory errors and help uncover a possible source of the false alarm effect.

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