Effects of Age on Contextually Mediated Associations in Paired Associate Learning

Jennifer P. Provyn, Martin J. Sliwinski, Marc W. Howard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Older and young adults learned single-function lists of paired associates with no contextual overlap (e.g., J-K, L-M) and double-function lists of paired associates consisting of chains of pairs (e.g., A-B, B-C). Although young adults outperformed older adults on both pair types, there was a robust Pair Type × Age interaction. Evidence from intrusion analyses shows that older adults performed better than would be expected on the contextually overlapping double-function pairs because they were less subject to response competition for the double-function pairs. Young adults made a larger proportion of backward and remote intrusions to double-function probes than did older adults. Thus, group differences in both correct-recall probabilities and intrusion analysis suggest that backward and transitive associations are sensitive to aging. The results are discussed within the theoretical framework of the temporal context model and the hypothesis that older adults are impaired at forming new item-context associations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)846-857
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology and aging
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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