Abstract: Age-related differences in memory for lateral orientation of pictures

BARTLETT, J. C., TILL, R. E., GERNSBACHER, M. A., & GORMAN, W. (1983). Age-related differences in memory for lateral orientation of pictures. Journal of Gerontology, 38, 439-446.

We examined memory for the lateral orientation of scenic pictures in 2 experiments with 112 young (mean age 19 yrs) and 109 elderly (mean age 67-72 yrs) adults to investigate whether such orientation in memory is susceptible to age-related differences. In Exp I, an input list of pictures was followed by a test demanding discrimination between targets vs reversed copies of input items or targets vs new pictures that verbally resembled input items. Results show that the age-related difference was reliably larger in the former task than in the latter. Exp II compared incidental vs intentional acquisition of orientation under conditions of short (1-sec) and long (5-sec) presentation of pictures at input. Results show that, with short presentation, intentional instructions reliably impaired orientation memory. With both presentation times, robust age-related differences were obtained. Findings suggest an age-related deficit in truly nonintentional encoding of orientation and pose a challenge for capacity theories of memory across the life span.