Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Individual differences in older adults' forced-choice recognition memory: Partitioning contributions of recollection and familiarity.


Psychology Department


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Social and Behavioral Sciences


The Complementary Learning Systems (CLS) model (Norman & O'Reilly, 2003) predicts the manner in which forced-choice recognition memory decisions are made should be sensitive to differences in test format under conditions of high target-foil similarity. When previously encountered target items are tested alongside corresponding similar foils (forced-choice corresponding; FCC), judgments can be supported by a familiarity comparison. However, when target items appear alongside foils that correspond to different targets (Forced-choice non-corresponding; FCNC), familiarity comparisons should be unhelpful and decisions should depend instead on recollection of specific details about original studied items. In the current study, we used an individual differences approach to test this prediction. We examined relationships among older adults' performance on measures of FCC and FCNC for object pictures and standardized measures of recall and recognition commonly used in neuropsychological practice. Drawing on prior individual differences work, we tested for separate variance partitions in FCC and FCNC attributable to recollection (shared with recall) and familiarity (shared with recognition after the common influence of recall was removed). Consistent with CLS predictions, a significant familiarity-related variance partition was found in FCC, but not FCNC, and a recollection-related variance partition was found in FCNC but not FCC. Latent variable simulations confirm that the probability of this result occurring under the particular dual-process assumptions of CLS is at least ten times that of each of several alternative models. The results have implications for both recognition memory theory and test design in neuropsychological practice.

Conference Name

Cognitive Neuroscience Society Meeting

Conference Location

Boston, MA

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