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Brain Cogn. 2010 Dec;74(3):312-23. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2010.08.012. Epub 2010 Sep 27.

Protective role of educational level on episodic memory aging: an event-related potential study.

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UMR-CNRS 6234 CeRCA, IFR 135, Imagerie Fonctionnelle, Université François-Rabelais de Tours, France.


The aim of the present experiment was to investigate whether educational level could modulate the effect of aging on episodic memory and on the electrophysiological correlates of retrieval success. Participants were divided into four groups based on age (young vs. older) and educational level (high vs. low), with 14 participants in each group. Event-related potentials (ERP) were recorded while participants performed a word-stem cued-recall task. Age-related memory deficits were greater for the less educated individuals. Age differences in the ERP old/new effects were also modulated by the level of education. This study demonstrated that the effects of age on episodic memory and ERP correlates of retrieval success are smaller in participants with high educational levels than those with lower levels. These findings provide support for the reserve hypothesis and highlight the need to consider individual differences when studying cognitive and cerebral changes in aging.

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