Reward-enhanced memory in younger and older adults.


OBJECTIVES We investigated how the anticipation of remote monetary reward modulates intentional episodic memory formation in younger and older adults. On the basis of prior findings of preserved reward-cognition interactions in aging, we predicted that reward anticipation would be associated with enhanced memory in both younger and older adults. On the basis of previous demonstrations of a time-dependent effect of reward anticipation on memory, we expected the memory enhancement to increase with study-test delay. METHOD In Experiment 1, younger and older participants encoded a series of picture stimuli associated with high- or low-reward values. At test (24-hr postencoding), recognition hits resulted in either high or low monetary rewards, whereas false alarms were penalized to discourage guessing. Experiment 2 was similar to Experiment 1, but the study-test delay was manipulated within subjects (immediate vs 24hr). RESULTS In Experiment 1, younger and older adults showed enhanced recognition for high-reward pictures compared with low-reward pictures. Experiment 2 replicated this finding and additionally showed that the effect did not extend to immediate recognition. DISCUSSION The current findings provide support for a time-dependent mechanism of reward-based memory enhancement. They also suggest that aging leaves intact the positive influence of reward anticipation on intentional long-term memory formation.

DOI: 10.1093/geronb/gbt044
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@article{Spaniol2014RewardenhancedMI, title={Reward-enhanced memory in younger and older adults.}, author={Julia Spaniol and C{\'e}cile Schain and Holly J. Bowen}, journal={The journals of gerontology. Series B, Psychological sciences and social sciences}, year={2014}, volume={69 5}, pages={730-40} }