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Q J Exp Psychol A. 1996 Aug;49(3):780-96.

Effects of perceptual and conceptual processing on memory for words and voice: different patterns for young and old.

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  • 1Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel.


In two experiments younger and older adults listened to a list of words presented auditorily by two speakers. The subjects processed each word either perceptually (voice judgements) or conceptually (pleasantness judgements), and were then given memory tasks for the words and the presenting voice. In the word-recognition task the two age groups benefited equally from conceptual as opposed to perceptual processing. In the voice memory task, however, conceptual processing improved performance relative to perceptual processing in the younger subjects (significantly so in Experiment 1), but conceptual processing was associated with decreased performance in the older group (significantly so in Experiment 2). These results suggest that whereas older subjects exhibit a trade-off in memory for item and attribute information, younger subjects exhibit a pattern of support, in which conceptual processing benefits memory for both items and their attributes.

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