The Effects of Output Interference on Metamemory and Cued Recall Accuracy in Young and Older Adults

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Curley, Taylor M.
Hertzog, Christopher
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Output interference (OI) is a gradual decline in memory accuracy as a function of an item’s position in a testing sequence (Anderson & Neely, 1996). Despite having been researched for over 50 years (e.g., Tulving & Arbuckle, 1963), this effect has yet to be linked to metacognitive experiences. The current study examines differences in memory accuracy and monitoring for young and older adults who experience OI during cued recall. At study, participants were asked to remember 40 cue-target pairs: For half of the participants, cue words were exemplars that were sampled from the same taxonomic category, while for the other half of the participants, word pairs were completely unrelated. At test, participants first engaged in a cued recall task, where they were asked to predict future recognition memory outcomes (i.e. feelings-of-knowing; FOKs) as well as if they experienced feelings of “Remembering”, “Knowing”, or “No Memory” (i.e. R/K/N judgments) for each trial. Afterwards, participants engaged in a 4-alternative forced-choice recognition task and were asked to provide retrospective confidence judgments (RCJs) after each trial. In the aggregate, memory and metamemory accuracy were similar for young and older adults in both experimental conditions. At the level of the trial, however, recall accuracy, FOKs, and self-reported recollection significantly decreased across successive trials for participants of all ages experiencing OI. Decreases in memory accuracy during OI were mirrored by increases in retrieval failures and states of no memory. Only self-reported familiarity differed between age groups, where “Know” judgments decreased across trials for young adults, but increased for older adults. The results support previous findings of age invariance in FOK accuracy (Hertzog, Sinclair, et al., 2010) and highlight the role of retrieval suppression in mechanistic accounts of OI.
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