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Distraction by unintentional recognition: Neurocognitive mechanisms and effects of aging

Allen, John, Hellerstedt, Robin, Sharma, Dinkar, Bergström, Zara M (2020) Distraction by unintentional recognition: Neurocognitive mechanisms and effects of aging. Psychology and Aging, 35 (5). pp. 639-653. ISSN 0882-7974. E-ISSN 1939-1498. (doi:10.1037/pag0000398) (KAR id:76288)


Sometimes, we intentionally evaluate stimuli to assess if we recognise them, whereas other times, stimuli automatically elicit recognition despite our efforts to ignore them. If multiple stimuli are encountered in the same environment, intentional recognition judgements can be biased by unintentional recognition of to-be-ignored stimuli. Aging is associated with increased distractibility and impaired intentional retrieval processes, which can make older adults more susceptible to distraction-induced recognition biases. We measured recognition memory performance, ERPs and EEG oscillations in old (60-74) and young (18-24) adults to investigate how aging affects unintentional and intentional memory processes, and how these processes interact over time to produce distraction-induced recognition biases. Older participants had poorer intentional recognition memory, but the biasing effect of unintentional distractor recognition was similar across age groups. ERP effects related to intentional and unintentional recognition that were strongly expressed in the younger group were reduced or absent in the older group. Furthermore, the older group showed qualitatively different ERP activity during intentional recognition compared to the younger group. However, similar patterns of theta and alpha oscillations were found in both age groups, who showed theta power increases for both intentional and unintentional recognition, whereas alpha power was enhanced for intentional recognition but reduced for unintentional recognition. Overall, the findings show that unintentional and intentional recognition involve multiple dissociable memory processes that have different time-courses and functional characteristics, and are differentially affected by aging. Whereas aging has strong effects on the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying intentional recognition memory, unintentional recognition mechanisms are less affected.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1037/pag0000398
Uncontrolled keywords: Aging; recognition; cognitive control; ERPs; EEG oscillations
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Zara Bergstrom
Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2019 14:38 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 18:52 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Allen, John.

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Hellerstedt, Robin.

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Sharma, Dinkar.

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Bergström, Zara M.

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