Studies attempting to improve episodic memory performance with strategy instructions and training have had limited success in older adults: their training gains are limited in comparison to those of younger adults and do not generalize to untrained tasks and contexts. This limited success has been partly attributed to age-related impairments in associative binding of information into coherent episodes. We therefore investigated potential training and transfer effects of process-based associative memory training (i.e., repeated practice). Thirty-nine older adults (Mage = 68.8) underwent 6 weeks of either adaptive associative memory training or item recognition training. Both groups improved performance in item memory, spatial memory (object-context binding) and reasoning. A disproportionate effect of associative memory training was only observed for item memory, whereas no training-related performance changes were observed for associative memory. Self-reported strategies showed no signs of spontaneous development of memory-enhancing associative memory strategies. Hence, the results do not support the hypothesis that process-based associative memory training leads to higher associative memory performance in older adults.
Bellander, M., Eschen, A., Lövdén, M., Martin, M., Bäckman, L., & Brehmer, Y. (2017). No evidence for improved associative memory performance following process-based associative memory training in older adults. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 8, . https://doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2016.00326