The effects of aging and Alzheimer’s disease on associative recognition memory
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We investigated the effects of aging and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) on item and associative recognition memory. Three groups of participants (younger adults, elderly adults, and AD patients) studied photographs of common objects that were located on either the left or the right side of a black computer screen inside either a red or a blue square. In a subsequent old/new recognition memory test, the participants were presented with four kinds of stimuli: “intact” stimuli, which were presented as they were during the study phase; “location-altered” stimuli, which were presented in a different location; “color-altered” stimuli, which were presented with a different surrounding color; and “new” stimuli, which consisted of photographs that had not been presented during the study phase. Compared with younger adults, the older adults showed equivalent performance in simple item recognition but worse performance in discriminating location-altered and color-altered stimuli. Compared with older adults, the AD patients showed equivalent performance in discriminating color-altered stimuli but worse performance in simple item recognition and the discrimination of location-altered stimuli. We speculate that distinct structural and functional changes in specific brain regions that are caused by aging and AD are responsible for the different patterns of memory impairment.
KeywordsAging Alzheimer’s disease Associative recognition Item recognition Memory
We are grateful to Makoto Saito, Makoto Uchiyama, and Kasumi Tabuchi for their assistance with data collection. We also thank the patients and their families for sharing their time to participate in this study. This work was partly supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Priority Areas (System study on higher-order brain functions) from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan (20020004 to E.M.), a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research B# (21300101 to T.F.) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and Global COE Program (Basic and Translational Research Center for Global Brain Science), MEXT, Japan.
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