ABSTRACT: This study was designed to investigate the relationship between executive functions and the age-related decline in episodic memory through the states-of-awareness approach. Following the presentation of a word list, a group of younger adults and a group of older adults undertook a recognition test in which they classified their responses according to the Remember-Know-Guess procedure (Gardiner & Richardson-Klavehn, 2000). In order to operationalise the executive function hypothesis, we investigated three specific executive functions (updating, shifting, and inhibition of a prepotent response) described in Miyake et al.'s (2000) theoretical model, and a complex executive task. The results revealed that fewer "R" responses were made during the recognition test by the older than the younger group, whereas there was no difference between the groups in the number of "K" responses. In addition, correlations indicated that remembering depended on executive function measures, whereas knowing did not. The hierarchical regression analyses showed that controlling for executive function, and particularly for the 2-back test, largely removed the age-related variance in remembering. These findings support the notion that executive dysfunction, and specifically updating decline, plays a central role in age-related memory loss.
Memory 07/2008; 17(2):158-68. · 2.09 Impact Factor