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Age effects on brain activity during repetition priming of targets and distracters

Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2006.10.014
  • Adult Aging
  • Repetition Priming
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Implicit Memory
  • Prior Learning
  • Working Memory


Abstract The effects of age on repetition priming and how such differences were related to intentional learning and working memory status were examined. Fourteen older (age 65–75) and 14 younger (age 18–28) healthy adults performed a modified delayed match-to-sample task consisting of a target object held in mind followed by nine test objects. Sixty four-channel EEGs were recorded as participants indicated whether each test object was the same or different from the target object. Half of all target and distractor objects were intentionally studied prior to the task, and both target and distractor objects were repeatedly presented up to four times in each trial. Although both age groups showed repetition priming effects, speed increases due to repetition were more enhanced for elderly. ERP repetition effects for both younger and older adults were indexed via early (200–550) and late (550–850 ms) components. The early repetition effect was affected by whether a distractor was previously studied or not for younger but not for older adults. In contrast, the late repetition effect was not affected by prior intentional learning, and a marginal age effect suggested that repetitions of distractors likely affected older and younger adults differently. These findings suggest that at least two distinguishable repetition mechanisms differentially affect adult aging.

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