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Journal Article

Memory inhibition, aging and the executive deficit hypothesis


Román,  Patricia
Minerva Research Group Neurocognition of Rhythm in Communication, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Ortega, A., Gomez-Ariza, C. J., Román, P., & Bajo, M. T. (2012). Memory inhibition, aging and the executive deficit hypothesis. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 38(1), 178-186. doi:10.1037/a0024510.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0012-33DA-C
Although memory inhibition seems to underlie retrieval-induced forgetting (RIF), there is some controversy about the precise nature of this effect. Because normal RIF is observed in people with deficits in executive control (i.e., older adults), some have proposed that an automatic-like inhibitory process is responsible for the effect. On the contrary, neurocognitive and dual-task findings with young people support the view that an executive control process underlies RIF. In the present study, we address this apparent controversy by comparing young and older participants under different dual-task conditions. Our results indicate that memory inhibition in older adults also depends on executive control, which is more easily disrupted by a secondary task in older than in young adults. Thus, the fact that RIF in older adults is sometimes present is not incompatible with a decline in executive control with aging. The results also shed some light into the discussion regarding the effect of dual tasking on retrieval.