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Destination memory and familiarity: better memory for conversations with Elvis Presley than with unknown people

Abstract

Background and aims

Familiarity is assumed to exert a beneficial effect on memory in older adults. Our paper investigated this issue specifically for destination memory, that is, memory of the destination of previously relayed information.

Methods

Young and older adults were told familiar (Experiment 1) and unfamiliar (Experiment 2) proverbs associated with pictures depicting faces of celebrities (e.g., Elvis Presley) or unknown people, with a specific proverb assigned to each face. In a later recognition task, participants were presented with the previously exposed proverb–face pairs and for each pair had to decide whether they had previously relayed the given proverb to the given face.

Results

In general, destination performance was found to be higher for familiar than for unfamiliar faces. However while there was no difference between the two groups when the proverbs being relayed were unfamiliar, the advantage of face familiarity on destination memory was present only for older adults when the proverbs being relayed were familiar.

Discussion and conclusions

Our results show that destination memory in older adults is sensitive to familiarity of both destination and output information.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Dr. Jordan Poppenk for helpful comment and approving the use of proverbs.

Conflict of interest

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Correspondence to Mohamad El Haj.

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El Haj, M., Omigie, D. & Samson, S. Destination memory and familiarity: better memory for conversations with Elvis Presley than with unknown people. Aging Clin Exp Res 27, 337–344 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40520-014-0286-z

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Keywords

  • Aging
  • Destination memory
  • Familiarity